Although most organized crime experts consider the Gambino/Gotti family to be the largest organized crime group in the nation, the Genovese/Gigante family, close to it in size, is far more
influential in New Jersey. Historically, more high-ranking members of the Genovese family lived
here, and it was the first of the five New York-based
families to expand its rackets to New Jersey decades
In recent years, the once close alliance between the Genovese and Gambino families the most powerful in organized crime has begun to sour and at one point had the makings of a bloody all-out gang war. For years, a smooth working relationship existed between the two families, groups that in the past shared territories and even personnel. Additionally, there was the long-standing mob tradition that inter-family disputes be settled by established mediation procedures of the "Commission," the LCN's ruling body that is composed of the heads of the nation's most powerful families. However, this disciplinary structure has been disrupted in recent years by aggressive law enforcement activities that led to the prosecution and imprisonment of many of the top LCN bosses in the east and a rapid turnover in leadership.
Hostility between the Genovese and Gambino families developed in part because of a dispute over how to carve up the rackets of the weakened Bruno/Scarfo family of Philadelphia and South Jersey and because of internal problems caused by law enforcement pressure on the Genovese family. The Gambino group has capitalized on these internal problems by taking over some traditionally Genovese territory. Information collected by law enforcement during the past year has identified Genovese consigliere Louis "Bobby" Manna of Jersey City and Gambino boss John Gotti of Queens as the central figures in this power struggle.
As Genovese family consigliere, Manna had a great deal of influence in the management of this crime group, both in New Jersey and New York. It is believed, for instance, that Manna was the family spokesman in early discussions with the Gambino/ Gotti group regarding the division of the New Jersey operations of the Bruno family. According to various sources, Gotti insisted that the Bruno operations in northern New Jersey be absorbed by the Genovese/Gigante group, while the southern, more lucrative areas would go to his group. Reportedly, this unequal division of Bruno enterprises so annoyed Manna that it was a factor leading him to plot Gotti's murder.
The Genovese/Gigante family, consisting of approximately 300 members supervised by 14 caporegimes (captains), is involved in illegal activities such as gambling, labor racketeering, loansharking and narcotics distribution throughout New Jersey. In addition, it has significant interests in ostensibly legitimate companies in the construction, liquor, and solid and toxic waste hauling industries. The family has long controlled several labor unions, particularly various locals in the trucking and garbage hauling industry and on the New Jersey waterfront. Four of the 14 capos operate in New Jersey under the supervision of Manna, even though he is consigliere for the entire family.
The current boss of the Genovese family, Vincent Gigante of New York, took control of the group in 1986 after the conviction of Anthony Salerno on federal charges including racketeering and being a member of the "Commission," the ruling body of La Cosa Nostra. However, according to both Genovese caporegime Vincent Cafaro and Bruno/Scarfo underboss Philip Leonetti, who have become federal informants, Salerno was only a front for Gigante and was never truly the boss himself. When Gigante officially assumed the position of boss, Venero "Kenny Eggs" Mangano of New York became his underboss and Manna became consigliere.
The situation with the Genovese family in New Jersey today is somewhat analogous to that of the Bruno/Scarfo organization in Philadelphia and South Jersey several years ago, where the late Angelo Bruno was allowing other groups to move into his family's territory with impunity. Vincent Gigante similarly appears to be allowing the Gambino organization to become firmly entrenched in bars, construction projects, restaurants, gambling and other traditionally-Genovese enterprises in New Jersey with little resistance. This apparent indifference has angered many family members, including Manna. The leadership problems have been compounded by caporegime Vincent Cafaro's becoming an informant, the incarceration of key family members, the inability to control John DiGilio and the dispute with Gotti over the division of the Bruno/Scarfo organization. All of these problems drove Manna to plot the murders of John and Gene Gotti in an attempt to restore lost areas of control and to prevent more losses. The failure of Manna's treachery, however, has further weakened his own group's position.
The loss of ILA union control is perhaps most significant. The Elizabeth and Newark areas of the Port of New York handle about 70% of the total general cargo entering the harbor. Additionally, the advent of containerization has reduced the ILA membership in the port from approximately 30,000 just 10 years ago to a total of 7,000 at the present time. Control of this union provides its administrator (and any gang that can influence him) the opportunity to control the flow of cargo, political power, financial gain and the ability to bring illegal cargo into the country. The Gambino family's new-found strength in New Jersey has begun to surface, with its associates taking positions of authority on the waterfront once held by Genovese associates.
Although the Genovese family has been faced with a variety of disruptive incidents within the last few years, it has been able to maintain most of its New Jersey operations. What remains to be seen is the full impact that John Gotti's expansionist tactics ultimately will have on the organization.