Frank Garafolo

Francesco "Frank Caroll" Garafolo (1891-1968) was the underboss of the Bonanno family from 1931 until 1956 and was a cousin of Boss Joseph "Bananas" Bonanno.


Garafolo was born in 1891 in Castellammare Del Golfo, a town in the province of Trapani which was known for it's massive Mafia activity. The Garafolo's were related, amongst others, to the Bonanno family. Garafolo left Sicily in 1910 and headed for New York where he would become a wholesaler and importer of cheese. In 1926 he was arrested for the first time for bootlegging. He was described as a man who loved opera, good food and a lively conversation. He also was the owner of High Grade Packing Co. in California and was a wealthy man. He eventually became a naturalized citizen in 1931.

When Joe Bonanno took the lead of the Castellammarese he appointed Garafolo as his underboss and another cousin, John Tartamella, as his consigliere. By this the Bonanno leadership consisted out of relatives, which strengthened their position. Throughout the 1930's Garafolo made frequent trips to Sicily, but why is not known. Possibly he went back to visit relatives or to maintain the overseas contacts with fellow mafioso. Garafolo was also closely associated with Joseph Cerrito, the boss of the San Jose crime family, and Santo Sorge, a relative of Sicilian boss Giuseppe Genco Russo. Another man he befriended was Generoso Pope, a native of the Italian town of Beneveto and the owner of "Colonial Sand and Stone", the biggest construction company in America at the time.

The Carlo Tresca murder

Garafolo's friendship with Pope went in a way that they were regarded as "the fascist and his gangster". The man making this accusation was an Italian anarchist named Carlo Tresca. He blamed Pope of being an fascist because he supported and funded Benito Mussolini in Italy. Garafolo at the time operated a newspaper agency that distributed an Italian newspaper throughout New York called "Il Progresso", which was found by Pope and was filled with fascist messages and beliefs. Tresca in turn published articles in his anti-fascist newspaper "Il Martello" which incriminated Pope and his ties to organized crime figures such as Frank Costello and Garafola.

In September 1942 Tresca attended a dinner hosted by the "War Bond Savings Committee of Americans of Italian Origin". However, when spotting Garafolo and Pope in the building he went furious and was heard yelling: "Not only is there a fascist here, but also his gangster. This is too much, I’m leaving!". They soon had enough of Tresca's behavior and decided he had to go. After an inner meeting the commission agreed upon the assassination of Tresca in order to save Pope's image, but also to withdraw attention from Costello, Garafolo and others. On January 11, 1943, Carlo Tresca was shot to death by Carmine Galante.

Retirement in Sicily

Somewhere in 1956 Garafolo retired and moved back to Sicily. One year later he was asked to attend a meeting between both Sicilian and American bosses in Palermo. The meeting was hosted at the Grande Hotel Delle Palme and included men such as Joe Bonanno, Carmine Galante, Santo Sorge, Giuseppe Genco Russo and Cesare Manzella. The meeting was held in a number of days and had as purpose to create a Sicilian commission, in the likes of the American commission, and above all to set up the massive drug-shipping network between Sicily and America/Canada. Because the Bonanno's had a large influence in Montreal's organized crime they agreed upon importing the drugs in Canada before smuggling it to the United States.

One month later, in November 1957, Garafolo travelled to America to attend the Apalachin Meeting, although it is still uncertain if he actually attended. Afterwards it remained quite around Garafolo until in 1965, when he got arrested together with Frank Coppola, Gaspare Magaddino, Vincenzo Martinez, Calogero Orlando and Diego Plaja for drug trafficking and international ties to organized crime. Also San Jose mob boss Joseph Cerrito was arrested in Taormina, a coastal town in the east of Sicily. The trial eventually started in 1968, but Garafola had already died of natural causes by then. The case itself was eventually dismissed.

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