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Joseph “The Animal” Barboza

Retired Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins brings you the best in mob history with his unique perception of the mafia. Joseph Barboza, aka the Animal, was born September 20, 1932. His criminal career went on from being a young thug and boxer to becoming a notorious mob hitman for the Patriarca crime family of New England during the 1960s. Starting his criminal life as a Mafia enforcer in Boston’s underworld, Barboza ended his criminal career as an FBI informant in 1967 and entered the Witness Protection Program. He was a star witness in the trial of six men convicted in the 1965 murder of Edward Deegan; a court sentenced four of the accused to death, and another two were sentenced to life imprisonment. Eventually, facts surface that Boston FBI agents helped set up these innocent men and used Barboza to frame the six defendants in a case of wrongful conviction for the Deegan killing. Barboza, himself, and Boston Mafia hitman Vincent Flemmi did this murder. Listen to learn about this case of corrupt FBI agents and more.
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Buckle up as we navigate the shadows of organized crime and betrayal in this in-depth exploration of Joseph the Animal Barbossa’s life.
, [00:00:00] well hey all you wiretappers out there. Guys, I’m back here in the studio, retired intelligence detective Gary Jenkins. Join me as we navigate the twists and turns of Boston mobster Joseph the Animal Barbossa. His life, well, goes from the boxing ring to the criminal underworld and an unexpected role as a key witness in a gangland murder.
Gangland Wire is the podcast that brings you an in depth exploration of these hidden stories that helped shape the American Mafia. Now buckle up, buckle up, I say, as we delve into the shadows of organized crime and betrayal. And I’m going to tell you the story of Joseph the Animal Barbossa. Joseph Barboza was born September 20th, 1932. His criminal career will go from a young thug and boxer to become one of the most notorious mob hitmen for the Patriarca crime family in New England. Starting as a mafia enforcer in the Boston’s underworld, he will end [00:01:00] his criminal career as an FBI informant in 1967 and enter the witness protection program.
He was a star witness at the trial of six men convicted of a 1965 murder of a burglar named Edward Deegan. Four of these accused men were sentenced to death and two others were given life in prison. Eventually facts will surface that the Boston FBI helped set up these innocent men and used Barboza to help frame these defendants and they’ll become a case of wrongful conviction later on.
But not after these guys spend most of their life in the penitentiary. Barbosa himself and Bo Boston Mafiaa hit man. Vincent Fleming actually did this murder.. Now Joseph Barbosa Jr’s early life, seemed destined for a different path. He was raised by Portuguese immigrants. His father, Joseph Barbosa Sr., was a middleweight boxer. His mother, Pamelda Camil, was a seamstress. He was fluent in Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish.[00:02:00] Young Barbosa, the animal, hadn’t got his nickname yet, but he follows in his father’s footsteps, and he trained as a boxer.
He was ranked as a professional light heavyweight boxer and a member of the United States Boxing Association. He fought under the moniker of the Baron. Barbosa’s first boxing match was in April of 1949 against a guy named Rocky Lucero down in El Paso, Texas. His last fight was up in Boston, September of 1961.
He fought against a man named Don Bale. They say he fought an unorthodox stance and was known for his powerful punches. Barbosa’s boxing records show that he won 8 out of 11 matches and he had 5 knockouts. During one of his early brushes with the mob, he sparred with Patriarch, a crime family associate, Americo Sacramone.
I don’t know if I’ve got that right or not, but Sacramone. Unable to make a living as a boxer, he will start working as a longshoreman, and a general [00:03:00] laborer, as a clerk in a fruit store, and he was a small time criminal, of course. Aren’t these guys all that at one time?
Now, Barbosa’s journey into the criminal underworld begins to unfold. During the 1960s, he will become a prominent enforcer and contract contract killer for the patriarchal crime family, but his story goes beyond the dark alleys and criminal enterprises in the back streets of New England beyond the ring.
Barbosa’s criminal career saw this early thing, 1953, he was in the penitentiary, I’m not even sure what for, but he led the largest prison break in Massachusetts Correctional Institute Concord history. They had a 75 year perfect history of no escapes at this Concord Correctional Institution. A wild escapade involved contraband whiskey, amphetamine tablets, and adhering dice to the streets of Boston. Joseph Barboza, and six other fellow [00:04:00] inmates guzzled contraband whiskey, took amphetamine pills, overpowered four prison guards, and raced away in two separate cars, they commandeered. During this short stretch of freedom, They beat random people on the street, cruised the bars in Boston’s downtown red light district, and they were finally apprehended by cops at the subway station in East Boston.
This little skate party barely lasted 24 hours, but it created a wide swath and some headlines. You know, and, and three months later, he’s waiting trial at a, at a jail for this prison break, he slugs a guard in the cafeteria. A few months after that, he tossed a table at a guard’s chest when he entered his cell.
I mean, this guy, he earned his name, the animal. Now, his entry into the actual organized crime circles and his association with the patriarchy crime family is a tale of dark alliances and blood ties. Despite never being officially inducted [00:05:00] because of his non Italian ancestry, Joseph the Animal Barbossa earned a reputation of one of Boston’s most prolific contract killers and sidewalk soldiers.
He was a street warrior, man. He was like Danny Green down in Cleveland. He was a street warrior. He first became trusted by Boston organized crime members during his time in Walpole prison. You know, many of these guys, they like, you know, you make your bones in a way, not by killing somebody, but by going to prison and not, you know, talking about anybody and then how you conduct yourself in prison.
A prison is, is like a training ground for a lot of guys and mob will swatch these guys and see how they conduct themselves in prison. And then, you know, then when you get out. You know, they see that you can, you can be of use. He had to, Joseph Barboza had such a strong personality that a bar he frequented when he was out was called Barboza’s Corner.
He was part of a crew supervised by Stephen the [00:06:00] Rifleman Flemmy for the Winter Hill Gang, and, and if you remember, Stephen the Rifleman Flemmy was, was Whitey Bulger’s buddy.
As a Winter Hill gang member and a patriarchy crime family associate, he became one of Boston’s most infamous contract killers within the next eight years. They’re pretty sure, law enforcement authorities are pretty sure several of his contract murders were for Raymond L. S. Patriarca himself. One time he was faced with legal troubles.
He got a six month sentence for assaulting a police officer. He pretty much stayed out, you know, the mob kept him out of these smaller scrapes. So you know, this Winter Hill gang is involved with Bulger and Vincent Flemming and his brother Stephen Flemming. And these were, these Flemming brothers, really his big allies.
An unusual side story, Barbosa drove a 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass, which law enforcement called the James Bond car. Because it had a real sophisticated alarm system for the times, and also had some kind [00:07:00] of a device that he could kick out thick black smoke out of the tailpipe if somebody was after him. I don’t know.
First I’ve ever heard of that outside of James Bond. But this is the early 60s, by 1966. Barbosa’s turbulent position in the Boston underworld included surviving some assassination attempts, and he challenged traditional La Cosa Nostra roles, and he was Portuguese after all, but he was in, in confrontations with authorities, but he also was demanding Protection claimants from a lot of people and that’s strained some of his relationships within organized crime.
For example, one time he tried to extort some protection money from a bar owner who was already paying protection, protection to Gennaro Angelo and he was like the underboss of the Boston part of the New England crime family. In October 1966, there was a falling out between different guys and the Boston mob was kind of like, this [00:08:00] guy was such a loose cannon, they weren’t really Too big on him right now.
He had a weapons charge of some kind, and he claimed later that he learned the Patriarca guys tipped off the police that led to his arrest. He had some accomplices with him. They got out on bail. He had his bail set at 100, 000, which of course he couldn’t afford. And nobody from the Patriarca crime family came down to help him post his bond or get your friendly bondsman to go ahead and Put down the bond for you.
So he, he is not happy with the patriarchy crime family. Stays in jail. He’s isolated from his association for any of these guys. He’s heard that they’ve set him up and, and this, this is when his journey takes on a web of connections and betrayals 1967, the Bureau has recruited him to be an informant for a while and end up going into witness protection program. Now, if you remember, I said that he testified against the [00:09:00] Mafia Associates for the murder of a burglar named Edward Deegan. And this was at the behest of the FBI agent John Connolly and Paul Rico, both of whom will eventually be really implicated and arrested.
Connolly spent most of his, rest of his life in the penitentiary. Rico died while in custody. Marbosa helped send five innocent men to prison for murder. When, in fact, he and Vincent Fleming had done this murder. This revelation will unravel a web of deception and wrongful convictions by the Boston FBI.
It was a hell of a mess, or a mellow of a mess, up in the Boston FBI office for quite a while. It’s taken them a long time to live that down. So he’s in witness protection. They give him a one year sentence, usually, like, for some of your old crimes, they give you some kind of sentence. You go to a snitch prison, as they call it.
The U. S. Marshals will then relocate Joseph Barboza in [00:10:00] 1969 under the name of Joseph Bentley to Santa Rosa, California. He had cooking experience, so he enrolled in a culinary arts school. He tried cooking on a ship. That didn’t last very long. I think that probably the rules on the ship were were a little bit too rigorous for our friend the animal.
Back in Santa Rosa, he met a 26 year old criminal named Clayton Rickey Wilson, young guy, you know, trying to make a name for himself. This pair ended up stealing as much as 100, 000 together, put that together. Wilson’s widow testified that these two men had clandestine meetings, kept small stockpile of dynamite, a machine gun, other guns, bulletproof vest, and a tin box that supposedly had over 100, 000 in stocks and bonds.
They just went out with wife went along with them and another woman, the four of them, couples were out for a walk and then Barboza. Got Wilson to walk away from everybody, they heard a gunshot and he come back, came back and he said, okay, let’s go. [00:11:00] And they didn’t question anything for a while until finally the, the body got found and then one of the women came forward and, and he took a conviction for that.
He got five years in Folsom prison under a second degree murder charge. Probably had to bargain it down, you know, you know, your whole conviction was based on this one woman who wouldn’t actually an eyewitness. And You know, so he, he, he copped a plea and it’s a pretty good plea, five years for a murder.
That’s pretty good. You know, interesting thing about Barbosa, while he was in prison, he wrote poems. Go figure. They had, they had titles like Boston Gang War, Mafia Double Cross, Cat’s Lives, The Gang War. I mean, this guy, he was a piece of work, wasn’t he? Certainly after his release from this five year sentence.
1976, the Boston Mob, of course, they’d located him. Everybody knew who he was by then. He’d come out of witness protection. He did take on another pronoun as we call it nom de [00:12:00] plume, nom de war, nom de gear, nom, name of war, Joseph Donati. And He’s living in San Francisco under that and February 11, 1976, Joseph the animal Barbossa is walking to his car and the hit team found him.
They’d been watching for a while and he was hit by four shotgun blasts at close range. They. He was armed with a Colt 38 at the time, but he didn’t have a chance to get it out. They caught him. They caught him unawares. Now, find out later that Gennaro Angelo dispatched his hit team from Boston. And actually they picked it up on another wire where Angelo’s remarking about one of the hit men, his last name was Russo.
And, and what a good job he did taking out Joseph the Animal Barbossa. So that’s the story of Joseph the Animal Barbossa. It’s a heck of a story. And I really appreciate y’all tuning in. You know, I highly recommend if you’ve been in the service and you have any problems with PTSD, you go to the VA website and get that hotline number. You [00:13:00] know, I always say this
Alcohol and drug abuse go hand in hand with PTSD, so if you’ve got a problem with that, go to see our friend Anthony Ruggiano down in Florida, former Gambino soldier, he’s a drug and alcohol counselor down there now, he’s got a hotline number on his website, or his YouTube channel, let me know if you ever do that don’t forget, I like to ride motorcycles, so watch out for motorcycles when you’re on the streets, and like and subscribe, and give me a review. Don’t forget, I’ve got movies out there on Amazon, so check them out.
Gangland Wire, the story of behind the story of the skimming from Las Vegas. From the Kansas City viewpoint. The war between the Civella brothers and the Spiro brothers called Brothers Against Brothers. I’ve got a book called Leaving Vegas. That’s, that’s the story from the Kansas City view of The skimming investigation in Las Vegas casinos.
So thanks a lot guys keep coming back.

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