The Lucchese crime family is one of the Five Families that rules organized crime in North America with an iron fist, within the nationwide phenomenon known as the Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). Their illicit activities includes profiting from labor and construction racketeering, illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, bookmaking, numbers racket, prostitution, pornography, money laundering, hijacking, fraud, fencing, bombing, arson, assassinations, kidnapping, murder, and murder for hire, among many other criminal activities and organized crime operations.

With the creation of the "Five Families" as the pillars on which the strength of the American Mafia was based, the new head of the branch previously led by Gaetano "Tom" Reina and then Joseph "Fat Joe" Pinzolo, was Gaetano Gagliano, with Gaetano Lucchese as his Underboss. The pair led the family into profitable areas of the trucking and clothing industries. When Gagliano died in 1953, Lucchese, who had been loyal to his boss from beginning to end, took over as Boss, and took Vincent Rao as his second. He carried on the traditions Gagliano had established, making the family which now bore his name one of the most profitable in New York. Lucchese further developed the family's interests by controlling Teamsters unions, workers' co-operatives and trade associations, and racketeering at the new Idlewild Airport. He also developed close relationships with politicians and members of the judiciary, which aided the family on numerous occasions. All this while keeping the low profile for which he became lauded in Mafia circles. Lucchese spent 44 years in the mafia without receiving a single criminal conviction. Toward the end of his life, Lucchese suffered various health problems and his heart finally gave up July 13, 1967. The man who took over at the head of the family was Carmine "Gribbs" Tramunti. At the time, Tramunti was almost 70 years old and himself suffering from ill health, but with boss-in-waiting Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo in prison, Tramunti was chosen as caretaker boss while Corallo served out his sentence. Tramunti faced a number of criminal charges during his time at the head of the family and was eventually convicted of financing a large heroin smuggling operation. This also included the arrests and convictions of Vincent Papa and Anthony Loria Sr. in the infamous French Connection. This scheme was responsible for distributing millions of dollars in heroin up and down the East Coast during the early seventies, which in turn led to a major NYPD corruption scheme. The scope and depth of this scheme is still not known, but officials suspect it involved corrupt NYPD officer/officers who allowed access to the NYPD property/evidence storage room, where hundreds of kilograms of heroin lay seized from the now-infamous French Connection bust, and then replaced the missing heroin with white baking flour. The substitution was only discovered when officers noticed insects eating all the bags of heroin. By that point an estimated street value of approximately $70 million worth of "smack" had already been taken. The racket was brought to light and arrests were made. Certain plotters received jail sentences, including Papa. (Papa was later assassinated in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia; several conflicting reasons why have been suggested). These were the times of Frank Serpico and the DEA's Knapp Commission. Corallo took over upon Tramunti's incarceration in 1974.

After the incarceration of Carmine Tramunti in 1974, the Lucchese crime family received a powerful Capo by the name of Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo from the Queens faction as their new leader. Corallo, nicknamed "Tony Ducks" from a reputation of 'ducking' criminal convictions, was a Boss squarely in the Tommy Lucchese mold. He was heavily involved in union control and worked closely with Jimmy Hoffa, the international president of the Teamsters Union, during the 1940s and 1950s. Corallo, who had close ties to the Painters and Decorators Union, the Conduit Workers Union, and the United Textile Workers, put Salvatore "Tom Mix" Santoro as the Underboss and supervisor of all labor and construction racketeering operations in New York, and Christopher "Christie Tick" Furnari as the reputed Consigliere. The family prospered under Corallo's leadership, particularly in the trafficking of narcotics, as well as union racketeering and major illegal gambling operations. As Corallo never discussed business during sit-downs, fearing US government were monitoring the conversations, he bought a new Jaguar with a phone in it, and reportedly drove around New York while on the phone discussing business. Salvatore "Sal" Avellino and Aniello "Neil" Migliore swifted as Corallo's chauffeurs during the 1970s and 1980s. Corallo, a huge fan of the New Jersey faction of the family, reputedly inducted and promoted Anthony "Tumac" Accetturo and Michael "Mad Dog" Taccetta into the organization and put them in charge of the Jersey Crew, which reportedly controlled most of the loansharking and illegal gambling operations in Newark, New Jersey at the time. But as Corallo maintained a strong leadership of the Lucchese Family, the FBI had managed to plant a bug in Corallo's car in the early 1980s, where he conducted most of his businesses over the car's phone, and he was duly overheard talking at great length about mob affairs, all from illegal gambling and labor racketeering, to drug trafficking and murder. Corallo was arrested and put on trial along with all the heads of the Five Families at the time. This trial became legendary as the Mafia Commission Trial, and saw Corallo to be convicted on numerous charges and sent to prison, where he would spend the rest of his life (he died in 2000). Corallo's second choice as successor was, after the disappearing of acting boss Anthony "Buddy" Luongo in 1986, Vittorio Amuso.

The period that followed was one of the most turbulent the Lucchese family had ever seen, given the relative calm under previous bosses. Vittorio "Vic" Amuso and his fierce Underboss, Anthony Casso, seized control of the Lucchese family in 1986, and promoted a powerful and notorious regime at the top. Both Amuso and Casso were heavily involved in labor racketeering, extortion, drug trafficking and especially murder activities, as they were recognized as strong rivals of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti during the mid 1980s, but strong allies of Genovese crime family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, who together conspired to murder Gotti, and on April 13, 1986, a car-bomb meant for Gotti, instead killed his Underboss Frank DeCicco. The assassination-plot was in retaliation for the unauthorized murder of former Gambino boss Paul Castellano. This, however, sparked a long and confusing 'tension' between these three crime families, as there was reported multiple deaths on all sides of the families. Later, during the late 1980s, Amuso questioned the share of profit he received from the Jersey Crew and reportedly demanded 50% of the crew's total profit, however, New Jersey faction leaders Anthony "Tumac" Accetturo and Michael "Mad Dog" Taccetta refused, and Amuso gave the order to "Whack Jersey", meaning that the entire New Jersey faction should be eliminated. Summoned to a meeting with Amuso in Brooklyn, New York, nobody showed up in fear of being massacred. Taccetta and Accetturo were later put on trial in 1990, as both Amuso and Casso were implicated in a case involving the fitting of thousands of windows in New York at over-inflated prices, and the pair went into hiding of that same year, ruling the family from afar and ordering the execution of anyone they deemed troublesome, either they were considered rivals or potential informants.What followed next was a series of botched hits, which led some members of the family turning informants to save their own lives. The planned executions went as high as Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco, the acting boss while Amuso was in hiding, who had little choice but to turn himself over to the authorities to spare him and his family from Amuso and Casso and their increasingly erratic demands. Amuso also ordered the slaying of captain Peter "Fat Pete" Chiodo, who along with Casso was in charge of the Windows Case operation, but as he was shot 12 times and survived, he also turned state's evidence and provided the entire windows operation that eventually controlled $10 billion in window replacements, sold in New York City. As Amuso also sanctioned the hit on Anthony "Tumac" Accetturo, who was on trial in 1990, he also cooperated with the government. On July 29, 1991, the FBI captured Amuso in Pennsylvania, and two years later Casso was caught in New Jersey. Amuso had resisted all attempts by the police to turn on the mob, but Casso wasted little time in doing so. Unfortunately for Casso, his testimony proved so inconsistent that he was ultimately accused of having gone back on his deal to help the authorities and refused leniency in sentencing for his various crimes. Amuso was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1991, as well as Casso in 1994, who had been a fugitive for over four years, and reportedly conspired with reputed Consigliere Frank Lastorino and Brooklyn faction leaders George Zappola, George Conte, Frank "Bones" Papagni and Frank Gioia, Jr. into murdering Steven "Wonderboy" Crea, Amuso's acting underboss of The Bronx, as well as Gambino crime family acting boss John "Junior" Gotti, son of the imprisoned John Gotti, along with members of the Genovese crime family once again. But due to massive indictments, none of the plots were committed.

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