Meyer Lansky

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Meyer Lansky Lansky (1902-1983) was a Jewish Mafioso with strong ties to the Italian mafia, he became a close friend with Lucky Luciano.
It was said that he was the financial brain and deal maker behind the scenes and he was often indicated as the accountant of the Mob.
He develloped an extended gambling empire in Miami, Las Vegas and Havana Cuba.
Lansky was a prominent mafia leader in the city, and had meetings with the (corrupt) Cuban president Batista on several occasions. Many of the gambling activities in Havana were legal bussineses, legendary was the "operation" in the "Gran Casino del Hotel Nacional", managed by his brother Jack Lansky.

Mafia Wars Cuba

The mafia clans in Havana were controlled by Joe Stasi and Santo Traficante Jr, but everybody obeyed Lansky, who was the operator behind the scenes and managed the political and financial relations.
In 1956 Lansky was convinced that a war with the other mafia families in New York for the control in Cuba was inevitably. He sought alliances with groups in Las Vegas and Chicago. At that time the mafia in Havana was big bussines, they managed not only the famous cabarets Tropicana and Sans Souci but also controlled dozens of casinos in hotel Nacional, hotel Capri, hotel Riviera, hotel Deauville, hotel Sevilla Biltmore, hotel Plaza, Havana Hilton (now Habana Libre) etc.

In 1957 major mafia families with ties to the Genovese, Gambino and Anastasia clans made their entry in the profitable Havana environment, this was the signal for a violent mafia war.
Mafia bosses Anastasia and Scalise were killed and Frank Costello was nearly killed in an assault.
A reunion of the Mafia leaders was held to seek an agreement, but could not resolve the problems.

Lansky declared that he wanted to retire from the bussines, and went to Miami Beach, and kept a low profile far from the "bussines".
Despite years of FBI investigations, no charges were filed against him, he claimed that he lost all his money in Cuba. Lansky died in 1983 at age 80. In 1959 the new Cuban Revolutionary Government led by Fidel Castro seized all assets of the mafia and nationalized the mafia hotels in Cuba.
Further Reading:

  • El Imperio de la Habana, written by Enrique Circules

  • Frank Sinatra and his links with the Havana Mafia.

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