The Gambino/Gotti family of La Cosa Nostra
is considered by most experts to be the largest and
most influential organized crime group in the nation, with a known membership of approximately
250 formally initiated, or "made," members and
about 600 associates. Based in New York City, the
group's operations extend to much of the eastern
seaboard and across the nation to California. Its
illicit activities include labor racketeering, pornography, narcotics, gambling, loansharking, extortion, solid and toxic waste dumping violations,
hijacking, pier thefts and fencing.
During the past year, the organization has experienced much turmoil and internal strife and has undergone a major transition. Although its leader, 48-year-old John Gotti of Queens, has managed to overcome a number of personal legal problems during his brief tenure, other supervisory levels of the group have been disrupted by indictments, incarcerations and deaths some by violence of key members. In order to compensate for these losses, Gotti was forced to reorganize the family hierarchy and to add new members to the roster. Since Gotti took over leadership of the group in December, 1985, six men have been promoted into caporegime positions or have been given additional responsibility, while caporegime Frank Locascio of the Bronx has been promoted to under-boss. Those given new caporegime status or those capos given expanded responsibilities include:
Since the 1985 murder of Gambino family boss Paul Castellano and the subsequent takeover of the family by John Gotti, the group has received an unprecedented amount of attention from both law enforcement and the media. Aware of his organization's strength, Gotti has overtly attempted to expand his sphere of influence. In contrast to his predecessor, Paul Castellano, he has acted more like a movie star or politician rather than a reclusive LCN boss. And along the way, he has undermined some liaisons established by Castellano, especially the working relationship that once existed with the Genovese/Gigante group. Gotti's increased interests in New Jersey construction projects, labor racketeering, rock quarries, liquor licenses and real estate are well known to law enforcement officials. It is these expansionist tactics that are most likely the basis for the current rift between the two groups.
However, the Genovese/Gigante group is not without hope of regaining its strong hold on these New Jersey territories. With already weak leadership in New Jersey, the Gambino/Gotti group will have to rely solely on the New York hierarchy to manage New Jersey enterprises if key members such as Bisaccia and Mandaglia are convicted and face lengthy prison sentences. Gotti's recent acquittal in Manhattan, however, will surely enhance his position as the most powerful organized crime figure in the nation.