There was a time when eating a seafood dinner in New York City would cost you a pretty penny. OK, fish is still pretty expensive around the country; but if you've had fish anywhere along the East Coast, you've probably paid a premium to the Genovese crime family or its colleagues.
Since the 1930s, Genovese Mafiosi have run the Fulton Fish Market, one of the oldest and most important fish wholesalers in the country. Fulton Fish, to this day, provides fresh seafood to much of the East Coast. The mob considered it another cash-friendly spot for money laundering, loan sharking and no-show jobs. Then New York City District Attorney Rudy Giuliani exposed the operation in the 1980s, and proposed a government takeover of the market in the 1990s. At the time, the market sold an estimated 125 million pounds of fresh fish every year, worth more than $1 billion [source: Raab].
The Fulton Fish Market has since moved to the Bronx, and efforts to keep out organized crime continue. Whether anything has changed has yet to be reported.
More recently, in 2014, members of the Gambino and Bonanno crime families were found to be involved in a scheme with the Italian 'Ndrangheta syndicate, which was shipping cocaine through New York inside wholesale frozen fish. The plan wasn't so much about fish, however. In fact, fish were abandoned at one point in favor of frozen pineapples [source: Marzulli].
Author's Note: 10 Businesses Supposedly Controlled by the Mafia
Growing up in the Los Angeles suburbs, I always thought of the Mafia as a Hollywood construct. The characters were great, but too boldly drawn to seem real. After living for the past 20 years in New Jersey and New York, I'm here to report that the mob does in fact live among us. Friends talk of growing up with the children of Mafiosi as casually as I might discuss mingling with the children of Hollywood stars. They tell tales of how mild-mannered types running pizza places might suddenly disappear. Or how one kid once claimed to have seen a body stuffed into the back of a trunk. The stories may have been exaggerated or even completely made up, but what's interesting is that, for them, the Mafia is as much a part of America's cultural history as Hollywood or Ford's assembly line.
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