Santo Trafficante, Jr. (November 15, 1914 - March 17, 1987) also known as "Louie Santos", "The King of Florida", "The King of Cuba", "The Real Dictator of Cuba", and "Don Santo" was an Italian-American crime lord and among the most powerful Mafia bosses in the United States. He controlled organized crime operations in Florida and Cuba, and he controlled illegal gambling, loan sharking, prostitution, pornography, bookmaking, numbers racket, drug trafficking and arms trafficking operations all over North America to places as far away as New Jersey, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Atlanta, Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Connecticut, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico and Cuba, which had previously been controlled by his father, Santo Trafficante, Sr. for over two decades. Within only two years of inheriting his fathers criminal organization, Trafficante, Jr. turned it into a multi-billion dollar international organized crime empire with tremendous political power, economic power, and very powerful friends and allies within law enforcement, politics and governments worldwide. Trafficante, Jr. single-handedly built a global criminal empire that was making a staggering $100 billion a year. During his reign, Trafficante, Jr. ruled all of Florida with an iron fist, controlling virtually the entire state, with more than half of all of the state and federal judges, police, prosecutors, lawyers, politicians, city councils, mayors, senators, members of congress, and government officials in Florida in his pocket, and for a time he even had 1955-1961, Florida Governor LeRoy Collins in his pocket, throughout the entire time he was Governor of Florida. Trafficante, Jr. had the whole state of Florida under his rule and control, he controlled everything from the law enforcement, local governments and politicians, to the illegal and legitimate businesses, and to the industries and corporations. Due to the fact that he had so many prominent politicians, police and government officials, and even the dictator of Cuba Fulgencio Batista in his pocket, Trafficante, Jr. ruled Cuba with an iron fist, being dubbed by the FBI as "The King of Cuba" or "The Real Dictator of Cuba." Cuba was under Batista's and Trafficante, Jr. control and they both ruled the whole country with an iron fist, controlling the whole government, military, all of the politicians and police officials, and owning and controlling every business, corporation, tower, skyscraper, restaurant, store, casino, race track, club, hotel, and even controlled the people of Cuba, and the entire military, being able to use any or every soldier for any purpose or desire. Trafficante, Jr. and Batista were very close friends and had almost a brotherly bond with each other, Batista handed Cuba over to Trafficante, Jr., and granted him total control over all of Cuba and the military and government, and also granted him control over everything and anything that he desired, he gave him a free reign in Cuba which was an astonishing extent of Trafficante, Jr.'s power and influence that he wielded.
Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista allegedly said to Trafficante, Jr. "My friend whats mine is yours, Cuba is yours as well as mine, anything you want just take it, you dont have to ask, its all yours, the government, military, businesses, hotels casinos, restaurants, is all yours my friend, you and i are gods here, i don't rule this country, you and i rule this country, we are equals here, you are a dictator here as well as i am, my power is your power, my reign is your reign, your invincible now. If anyone dares to give you trouble, you tell me and they will be dead immediately."
During his regime, Trafficante, Jr. was one of the most powerful and dangerous crime lords in the world, and maintained that title for 40 years. Over 34 years during his reign, he became a mega-billionaire, created a multi-billion dollar international organized crime empire, created numerous legitimate empires and criminal empires all around the United States, Canada, Cuba, Panama, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, United Kingdom, South Africa, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, China, Iran, and Australia, raked in hundreds of billions of dollars a year, killed thousands of people, maintained important relationships with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) powerful politicians, and government officials all over the world, became of the richest and most powerful people in the world, and changed the course of world history. Trafficante, Jr. had endless, unlimited and incalculable wealth and power, he was a known billionaire in the late 1950s, he quickly became a mega-billionaire by 1959, and his greatest net worth was a staggering $25 billion before his death, making him one of the richest people in the world. Trafficante, Jr. was reputedly the most powerful crime lord in Batista-era Cuba, and one of the richest and most powerful people in the world. Trafficante, Jr. ruled Cuba with an iron fist, for decades. Trafficante, Jr. maintained a long-standing, loyal relationship with the Five Families and the Buffalo crime family in New York, and he also maintained major alliances and strong ties with almost every mafia family in the United States, primarily the Philadelphia crime family, Bufalino crime family, Patriarca crime family, DeCavalcante crime family, Cleveland crime family, Chicago Outfit, New Orleans crime family, Los Angeles crime family, Dallas crime family, Milwaukee crime family, Detroit crime family, Kansas City crime family and the Denver crime family. But was more closely allied with Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana, and New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello. Throughout Trafficante's reign as the boss of the Tampa based Trafficante crime family, he controlled almost the entire State of Florida, but he was not believed to have total control over Miami, Florida, because he shared control of Miami with the top bosses of the Five Families of New York. South Florida was a loosely knit conglomerate of New York family interests with obvious links to Meyer Lansky, Benjamin Siegel, Carlos Marcello, Leo Stein and Frank Ragano. To this day, control of Florida by organized is divided between Chicago, New Orleans, New York, and international organized crime interests. The Trafficante family was also credited for creating the language known in the old mafia days as "Tampan", which was a language of an Italian/Spanish dialect. It was spoken by the Mob mainly because the police could not understand the language.
Santo Trafficante Jr. was born in Tampa, Florida to Sicilian parents Santo Trafficante, Sr. and his wife Maria Giuseppa Cacciatore in 1914. He maintained several houses in Tampa and Miami, and also frequented Havana, Cuba (while Fulgencio Batista was in power), and New York City. Treasury Department documents indicate that law enforcement believed Trafficante's legitimate business interests to include several legal casinos and hotels in Cuba; a Havana drive-in movie theater; and shares in the Columbia Restaurant and several other restaurants and bars in Tampa. He was rumored to be part of a Mafia syndicate which owned many other Cuban hotels, race tracks, night clubs, restaurants and casinos. As one of the wealthiest and most powerful Mafia bosses in North America, Trafficante was invited to the Havana Conference in December, 1946. Many of Trafficante's brothers also became heavily involved in the Tampa crime family, including prominent soldier and heir apparent, Henry Trafficante.
Trafficante was arrested frequently throughout the 1950s on various charges of bribery and of running illegal bolita lotteries in Tampa's Ybor City district. He escaped conviction all but once, receiving a five-year sentence, in 1954, for bribery, but his conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court before he entered prison. In 1955, he was suspected of ordering the brutal murder of former Tampa crime boss Charlie Wall.
In 1957, Trafficante was arrested, along with 56 other mobsters, at an apparent underworld convention, the Apalachin Meeting in upstate New York. Charges were later dropped, though authorities believe the meeting was set up, among other things, to fill the power vacuum created by the recent assassination of Murder, Inc. leader Albert Anastasia. Trafficante later denied knowledge of the circumstances of Anastasia's death.
Castro and JFK Assassination Plots
After Fidel Castro's revolutionary government seized the assets of Trafficante's Cuban businesses and expelled him from the country as an "undesirable alien", Trafficante, Carlos Marcello, Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli came into contact with various U.S. intelligence operatives, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was involved in at least twelve unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Castro. Allusions to these historic connections were confirmed by the Central Intelligence Agency's 2007 declassification of the "Family Jewels" documents.
Suspicions that Trafficante, along with Carlos Marcello, mob boss of the New Orleans crime family in the 1950s and '60s, Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa, and Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, were involved in the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy have been alleged repeatedly but have not been proven, however it is believed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Robert F. Kennedy and dozens of other reliable sources that Trafficante, Marcello and Giancana masterminded the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and had assistance from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Trafficante was summoned to court in 1986 and questioned about his involvement with the King's Court nightclub operated by members of the Bonanno crime family from New York, including undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone, alias, "Donnie Brasco". Trafficante again escaped conviction. A big fan of greyhound racing, Trafficante would have his driver stop right in front of the now defunct newsstand in Britton Plaza, (Tampa) where Mr. Trafficante would emerge from the rear car door, enter, pick up his reserved copy of the racing form, drop $2 on the counter, then nod his thanks to the clerk and climb in the backseat into his car.
Trafficante's health had declined in his older years, and he died in Houston, Texas, where he had gone for heart surgery, in 1987. He was reportedly succeeded as boss of the Tampa crime family by Vincent LoScalzo.