…by Jonas E. Alexis, VT Editor
If you believe that Meyer Lansky created “a gambling empire that stretched across the world,” you are not crazy, because even Wikipedia, of all places, says the same thing.
Wikipedia goes even further: Lansky “played a large role in the consolidation of the criminal underworld.” Lansky, according to FBI records, spent almost fifty years in the criminal underworld. This mobster had had a history of buying politicians and sending
“large sums of gambling money to the ADL, which would in turn accuse anyone who claimed Lansky and [Moe] Dalitz were gangsters of anti-Semitism. In addition to being steady contributors to the ADL, the Jewish gangsters of this era also supported Israeli terrorist organizations: ‘With support from Meyer Lansky, Hank Greenspun had become a gunrunner for Israel in 1948 and thereafter performed as an Israeli operative. Bugsy Siegel reportedly gave $50,000 to support Irgun while ‘celebrity gangster’ Mickey Cohen sponsored an Irgun fundraiser in 1947.’
“The Israeli newspaper Haaretz claim that ‘Jews control crime in the United States,’ but Meyer Lansky had the backing of the ADL when he claimed that ‘there was much anti-Semitism behind the campaign to convict him.’”
So Lansky was essentially aiding and abetting the Israeli regime and was funding thought police institutions like the ADL.
Lansky was also part of the “Havana Mob,” which served as a haven for organized crime in Cuba in the 1940s and 50s. With the help of Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Lansky forged the “Havana Mob,” which was widely known as one of most criminal groups in the world. As writer T. J. English points out in his Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution, Lansky and Luciano wanted Havana
“to serve as the front for a far more ambitious agenda: the creation of a criminal state whose gross national product, union pension funds, public utilities, banks, and other financial institutions would become the means to launch further criminal enterprises around the globe.
“The Havana Mob could then bury the profits from these criminal operations underneath the patina of a ‘legitimate’ government in Cuba and no one would be able to touch them.”
English argues that it is highly possible that Lansky and other mobsters established their criminal base in Havana back in the 1920s. “Both Luciano and Lansky made trips to Havana in the 1920s to oversee their bootlegging operations…” Lansky fixed his eyes on the island in 1928 and revealed his plan for Havana to Luciano then. For them, Havana meant big business: booze, bootlegging, cabarets, casinos, prostitution, and, of course, organized crime.
“By early 1932, the city’s two old-time Mafia bosses had both been murdered in gangland hits engineered by Luciano and Lansky: Masseria was gunned down while eating past at a restaurant in Coney Island, having been lured there by Lucky [Luciano]. Maranzano was stabbed and shot to death in his Manhattan office by four Jewish gangsters disguised as New York City policemen….
“Luciano, Lansky, and a few others in New York were seen as the masterminds of this dramatic new direction and were therefore established as prominent members of the Commission, a governing body composed of like-minded Mob leaders from Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans, and just about anywhere else where the American underworld enforced its will.”
This criminal base operated through “the judicial use of political repression, violence, and murder…” Through these acts of violence and murder, the mobsters created “the most organic and exotic entertainment era in the history of organized crime” in Cuba.
Those mobsters also created local cabarets, which featured “scantily clad, voluptuous, and sometimes obtainable” dancers, who were too happy to be used and reused as machines or sex toys. Luciano himself was indulged in those activities, and they ended up creating what one might call the sex industry, which “became the hallmarks of a thriving tourist business” in Havana.
The Havana Mob, argues English, “brought about a stratification of sex that was a culmination of everything that had come before. At the top of the pyramid were the showgirls from the most prestigious clubs…”
As Lansky declared, “Charlie liked pussy. It was one of his weaknesses.” Because of the criminal underground which people like Al Capone and others have established, one can say that Havana was almost like the Weimar Republic in Germany. English writes:
“There was also sex. Mostly, male tourist left their wives at home. Joe Stassi—a Mafioso from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who would later become an important man in Havana—remembered his first trip to the city in 1928: ‘Beautiful young whores everywhere, every street corner, every bar. In one club, there were twenty-five girls. You picked the one you wanted to be in a live sex show.”
In order to create a voluptuous atmosphere, the mobsters invited a number of musicians who created a fad named “the mambo.” “The mambo was both a type of music and a dance, a sensual transaction between two people engaged in mutual seduction. The mambo was the unofficial dance of the Havana mob…”
All of this was all right to then Cuba’s president, Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, who gave Lansky and his henchmen the license to do whatever they pleased. It was obvious to many Cubans that Zaldívar needed to be overthrown—and he was overthrown during the Cuban Revolution. Batista
“had taken the government by force [in 1952], suspended the constitution, and was in the process of creating a capitalist Shangri-La in Havana. To those who opposed his fraudulent regime, the casinos, nightclubs, sex trade, and mobsterism in the capital city became everything they despised about the plundering of Cuba by outside interests.”
Batista’s mobsterism and his attachment to the world-wide criminal organization inspired Fidel Castro to start a revolution and a rebel group. William Galvez Rodriguez, who was a rebel leader, recounted:
“It would not be accurate to say that the [mobsters] in Havana were the reason for the Revolution—there were deeper reasons that went back to the beginning of Cuba’s formation.
“But it is a fact that the casinos and the money—and most importantly the connections among the U.S. gangsters, U.S. corporations, and the Batista regime-became a symbol of corruption to us.
“Even though we were away in the mountains, we knew of the prostitution, the sealing of government funds, the selling of the country to outside interests. We vowed that when—if not; when—we were in power, this was going to change.”
Rodriguez was telling the truth. Lansky essentially owned Batista. As a result, Batista allowed the Havana Mob to degrade Cubans through sexual manipulation. As English puts it, “The sexual degradation of Cuban citizens for the entertainment of North American and European tourists was the dirty secret of the Havana Mob…The whores and sex performers were the underbelly of the casinos and show places: it was all part and parcel of the same universe.”
Once again, Batista allowed the Havana Mob to flood Cuba with what ought to be called sex slavery. Joseph “Doc” Stacher, one of Lansky’s associates, remembered:
“Lansky and I flew to Havana with the money in suitcases and spoke to Batista, who hadn’t quite believed we could raise that kind of money…Lansky took Batista straight back to our hotel, opened the suitcases and pointed at the cash. Batista just stared at the money without saying a word.
“Then he and Meyer shook hands and Batista left. We had several meetings with him over the next week and I saw that Meyer and Batista understood each other very well. We gave Batista a guarantee of between $3 and $5 million a year, as long as we had a monopoly on the casinos at the Hotel Nacional and everywhere else on the island where we thought tourists would come. On top of that he was promised a cut of our profits.”
Reputable historians now agree that Nazi Germany was largely a reaction to Bolshevism, and we can say for certainty that Fidel Castro’s creation was a reaction to Khazarian mobsterism and gangsterism which were created by criminals like Lansky in Havana:
“To the enemies of the Batista regime, a moral rot had taken hold in Havana that was a natural consequence of the president’s unholy relationship with what Castro referred to as desfalcadores (embezzlers), his term of choice for those behind the economic plundering of the island.”
Castro sympathized with “Cuba’s most dispossessed people,” and they bonded with his army in order to fight back. As Castro himself put it:
“Batista was carrying on a fierce repressive campaign, and there were many houses burned, and many murdered peasants. We dealt with the peasants in a very different manner from the Batista soldiers, and we slowly gained the support of the rural population—until that support became absolute. Our soldiers came from that rural population.”
Castro obviously found himself squaring off with Lansky and others when he said that his movement was an eternal enemy of the Havana Mob. In fact, Castro and his commanders articulated that once Batista is overthrown, “gambling and corruption would be eradicated.” As English puts it, “From here on out, it would be war to the death.”
To some extent, John F. Kennedy, who went after Lansky for his criminal activity in the United States, seemed to have known this as well. He declared:
“I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country’s policies during the Batista regime.
“I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will even go further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States.
“Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear.”
Wikipedia again acknowledges: “In October 1960, Castro nationalized the island’s hotel-casinos and outlawed gambling. This action essentially wiped out Lansky’s asset base and revenue streams. He lost an estimated $7 million, equivalent to $47.9 million in 2019. With the additional crackdown on casinos in Miami, Lansky was forced to depend on his Las Vegas revenues.”
When Lansky knew that there was an anti-Batista revolution in the air, he responded by building “bigger hotel-casinos, flashier floor shows, and large doses of ‘investment capital’ designed to reinforce the status quo and drown out the forces of revolution.”
In other words, Lansky knew what he was doing. Therefore, it is incoherent for Eric Dezenhall to say that Lansky “never wanted to be a gangster. He wanted what the most ruthless capitalists in American history did: to become respectable. Respectable meant legal. The best place to accomplish this was in Cuba where his casinos were owned lawfully under dictator Fulgencio Batista’s government. So, Lansky put nearly all his money there.”
Dezenhall didn’t support the claim from within Lansky’s own diaries and other writings, which Dezenhall claimed to have read. Dezenhall also denies the claim that Lansky used to blackmail people like J. Edgar Hoover because Lansky possessed embarrassing pictures of Hoover involving in orgies which were held by Lansky’s own protégé and lawyer Roy Cohn and liquor magnate Lewis Rosenstiel. One can understand why Hoover, the FBI director then, could never flesh out a full investigation on Lansky, even though Lansky was involved in things that the FBI had explicitly labeled criminal activities.
“Harry Anslinger’s Bureau of Narcotics, a division of the U.S. Treasury, was the first American law enforcement agency to espouse and publicize the idea that there was an organized, nationwide conspiracy of Italian American criminals called the Mafia, whose roots could be traced to Sicily.
“For the FBI, a division of the U.S. Justice Department, J. Edgar Hoover disagreed. Hoover saw racketeering and gangsters in localized, American terms — and, as such, a problem for individual states and cities, which lay outside his federal mandate.
“But it was in the nature of an agency whose task was to track drug supply routes stretching halfway around the world to be uncovering evidence of international connections… The narcotics director came to believe fervently in crime as a matter of integrated, transnational organization, and Meyer Lansky’s trip to Naples fitted perfectly into that picture.”
Hoover could not incriminate Lansky because he was caught with his pants down—and Lansky was probably the mastermind behind it all because Hoover was caught with Lansky’s partners in crime. Hoover again and again declared that the mafia did not exist, presumably because Lansky got him on a leash. Some believe then that “Hoover’s personal position, that the Mafia did not exist, has proved over the years to be as erroneous as the Kefauver Committee’s belief in a subterranean, nation-wide business corporation.”
Part of this article was first published in May of 2018.
-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_Lansky.
-  https://vault.fbi.gov/meyer-lansky.
-  E. Michael Jones, “How Meyer Lansky took over the Cincinnati Ballet, and What Four Ballerinas did about it,” Culture Wars, July/August, 2017.
-  T. J. English, Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), xi.
-  Ibid., 11.
-  Ibid., 15.
-  Ibid., xii.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid., x.
-  Ibid., 211.
-  Ibid., 8.
-  Ibid., 12.
-  Ibid., xii.
-  Ibid., xiii.
-  Ibid., xiv.
-  Ibid., 220.
-  Ibid., 16.
-  Ibid., 220.
-  English, Havana Nocturne, 221.
-  Ibid.
-  Quoted in Jean Daniel, “Unofficial Envoy: An Historic Report from Two Capitals,” New Republic, December 14, 1963.
-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_Lansky.
-  English, Havana Nocturne, xv.
-  For further studies, see Anthony Summers, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (New York: Open Road Integrated Media, 1993).
-  Robert Lacey, Meyer Lansky: The Thinking Man’s Gangster (New York: Little, Brown & Company, 1991 and 2015), Kindle edition.
-  Ibid.