Lucky Luciano and the Havana Meeting

February 3, 2020

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 Havana, Cuba. Luciano’s old friend Meyer Lansky met him in Cuba. Acting on Luciano’s orders, Lansky had reserved several rooms and a meeting room at the Hotel/Casino Nacional which was owned by Lansky for the week of December 22. 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.

In the days 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 and Joe Adonis presented him with the envelopes which would total around $200,000.  They even flew Frank Sinrata in and he was accompanied by several cousins of Al Capone.

During the next few days, the bosses discussed issues like 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.

Since Luciano was not allowed inside the United States, he had left Frank Costello in place as a caretaker from 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. This affirmation of Luciano put Vito Genovese in his place and he had to put aside his places form the Luciano family until a few years later.
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3 comments on “Lucky Luciano and the Havana Meeting

  1. John Ramsey Feb 3, 2020

    Fascinating report of the Havana Convention.I would love to have been a fly on the wall at some of those conversations

  2. Red Wemette Feb 6, 2020

    This is a very good story about our history. Not many people know about the connection between President Truman and the Pendergast organization in Kansas City. Much less Cuba, one thing I didn’t hear you mention was that Irwin Weiner, from Chicago was an important part of this story.

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