Lucky Luciano and the Havana Meeting

In this episode, Gary takes a close look at the 1946 mob meeting in Havana, Cuba. In 1946 Charles “Lucky” Luciano was residing in Italy after his deportation by the United States. He obtained an Italian passport issued in his real name, Salvatore Lucania, and obtained visas for travel in Mexico, Cuba, and several South American nations. Once he obtained these travel documents, Luciano journeyed to Caracas, Venezuela, then to Mexico City, and finally to Havana, Cuba. Luciano’s old friend Meyer Lansky met him in Cuba. Acting on Luciano’s orders, Lansky reserved several rooms and a meeting room at the Hotel/Casino Nacional from December 22 to January 1. Lansky recommended that his friend Luciano purchase a $150,000 interest in the Hotel Nacional because he had an important government official, President Fulgencio Batista as a silent partner.  Luciano agreed because this operation would get him back in business only 90 miles from the United States and give him official government protection in Cuba.

Leading up to Christmas Day of 1946, well-known American mob bosses started arriving at the Hotel Nacional. They were all there to welcome Luciano back from exile and to acknowledge his position within the North American crime families. As would be the custom, they all arrived with cash envelopes for the boss of bosses. Lansky scheduled a dinner where Luciano was publically acknowledged as the boss, and Lansky, Frank Costello, Joe Adonis, and the other bosses presented him with envelopes totaling around $200,000.  They even flew Frank Sinrata in, and several cousins of Al Capone accompanied him.

During the next few days, the bosses discussed some mob leadership problems in New York City, who may invest in Cuban casinos, the mob-controlled narcotics operations, and the work being done by Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel to develop Las Vegas into a gambling mecca and problems with the Flamingo casino/hotel.

Since Luciano was not allowed inside the United States, Frank Costello had been running his mafia family. Vito Genovese was straining at the harness to be the new boss. Luciano obtained a consensus from the other mob bosses that he was the boss of all bosses or the capo de tutti capi. But by the time this entire meeting was over, Luciano was deported back to Italy, and he would never be the Boss of Bosses.
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