Naval Intelligence Lieutenant General Charles Radcliffe Haffenden received a report that four aliens had been sighted on shore and they were speeding towards the East End of Long Island. But his investigation fell short of standard military protocols. Haffenden arrived at Millie’s Inn restaurant in Napig Beach to dine with several well-known New York City organized crime figures. They were needed to control the top-secret surveillance network he had established with the help of the mob.
Declassified materials obtained by the US publication say the mob played a covert role in World War II, using its power and control over New York ports, dock workers and fishermen to monitor submarines, other suspicious objects and people. The mob even used its influence to force the army into a closed foreign consulate believed to hold vital information on the Nazis, the documents say.
“The Navy realized they didn’t have complete control over the security of New York Harbor. They couldn’t join the unions, they couldn’t get close to the merchants, to the shippers. Nobody talked to them,” said Matthew Black. in an interview with NYP, author of the recently published “Operation Underworld: How the Mafia and the US Government Teamed Up to Win World War II.” “The Navy was surprised to learn that the mob would not only be willing to help, but be happy. Many of them were loyal to the state during the war. They loved the United States of America,” he added.
In early 1942, months before the submarine reached Long Island, Haffenden hatched a top-secret plan to unofficially appoint a known enemy of the state to defend New York City from the Nazis. Through New York lawyers, Haffenden arranged a midnight meeting in Riverside Park between mobster Frank “Sox” Lanza, who was called the “king of the Fulton Fish Market” who was reporting to infamous mob boss Lucky Luciano, and the district attorney.
Sox was a conscientious “patriot” who hated both Hitler and Benito Mussolini, so it was easy to persuade him to cooperate with the military. With his help, the captains of the deep-sea fishing boats, who previously pretended not to speak a word of English, began to cooperate with the military officers. “For a brief period of time, the American fishing fleet became the first line of defense in the search for German submarines,” Black said, all along the East Coast, especially in New England.
As useful as the Sox was in the war effort, there were still many ports and docks that it could not influence. It’s time for Operation Underworld to use the services of Luciano himself. There was only one problem – he was behind bars for many years in prison, and it was difficult to arrange a meeting with him. “The Navy didn’t want the FBI to know what they were doing. So they had to come up with all kinds of measures to transfer him to another prison and make sure he wasn’t part of a big deal. Luciano himself was kept most of the time in the dark,” Black explained.
Unlike Lanza, Luciano did not act like a patriot. He used military strategy to manage his empire from within, issuing orders to his top henchmen, lower-ranking mob bosses like Odessa-born Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello and Willy Moretti, during military-sanctioned meetings behind bars. .
A year after the Dash affair, Operation Underworld had evolved from harbor defense and espionage to helping the Allied forces invade and occupy Sicily, Luciano’s homeland. It was a campaign codenamed Operation Husky: “The United States was at a disadvantage in waging war in Europe. All the maps, all the diagrams, all the data, all the intelligence collected during the First World War was destroyed, “said Black. The task went on to find information about Sicily. “The mafia helped a lot to establish contacts, people who were recently in Sicily, they worked in the ports there and were able to relay information about what was happening in Italy to naval intelligence,” the expert added.
As a result, mob contacts played a significant role in the first wave of the US invasion of Sicily in 1943. New York mobsters acted as go-betweens between the military and locals, including the local mob, in an attempt to prove that the Americans were a friendly force during the occupation. “The big goal was to get the Italians to attack the Germans, and that’s exactly what happened,” Black concluded.