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10 Businesses Supposedly Controlled by the Mafia

Garbage Hauling/Waste Management
Mobsters have been getting trashy in New York for decades. Mark Hunt/iStock/Thinkstock
Mobsters have been getting trashy in New York for decades. Mark Hunt/iStock/Thinkstock

The connection between the garbage-hauling industry and organized crime goes back decades. In the U.S., La Cosa Nostra has been part of New York's commercial sanitation system since the 1950s (personal trash is hauled by the city's Department of Sanitation). Carters, as trash haulers are known, have always been able to carve out and sell routes to one another, making the system vulnerable to strong-arm tactics.

The Mafia entered the industry through the Teamsters union, gaining influence over certain routes and using unsavory tactics to keep competition at bay. When a national waste-industry leader, Browning-Ferris Industries, entered the market in 1992, an executive's wife found the decapitated head of a German shepherd on her lawn. In its mouth was a note: "Welcome to New York" [source: Keenan].

Law enforcement in New York has made ongoing strides to, ahem, clean up the industry. It was one of Rudy Giuliani's top priorities as New York City mayor, and he and attorney Robert Morgenthau oversaw indictments throughout the 1990s of members of the Genovese and Gambino crime families.

Still, the Mafia presence persists. As recently as January 2013, 30 people were indicted for extortion in New York City. The group included members and associates of three different mob crews — the Gambino, Genovese and Luchese crime families — all connected to the garbage-hauling business [source: Margolin].

The trend continues overseas. The Italian Mafia's Camorra group is said to have controlled garbage in the city of Naples since the early 1980s. The badly run system gained worldwide attention back in 2008, when uncollected garbage piled up on the city's streets for more than two weeks because the Mafia left the dumps closed.

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