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Carmine "The Cigar" Galante

Born in Sicily in 1910, Carmine was an expert hitman who worked mostly for Vito Genovese. Early on, Carmine showed an affection for tobacco, and usually had a cigar in his mouth. He eventually adopted this as his nickname: The Cigar. Despite his relative reknown, Carmine spent most of his career in jail, stewing over what might have been and plotting what he would do upon his release.

Just a Cigar

As prohibition came to a close, Carmine had to find new and interesting ways to occupy his time. During the 20's he'd kept himself busy by hiring out his Brooklyn based gang to do hits, steal booze, and generally fuck shit up. But when Joe Masseria was killed and Salvatore Maranzano took over New York, Carmine's gang grudgingly fell under control of the new boss of bosses. An unforseen consequence of this was the end to many of the petty disputes Carmine's boys had been paid to settle. Thus, Carmine decided to branch out and look for new rackets.

In 1930, Carmine and his boys tried to hit an armored car in Brooklyn. Just as they pulled out their guns to hold up the driver, a police office spotted them and opened fire. Carmine returned the favor with his handgun and winged the cop in the arm. He also managed to wound a dangerous 6 year old girl who was standing nearby. Neither the cop nor the girl died, but Carmine got 9 years in the clink for his efforts.

Meanwhile, on the streets

When he got out, it was just in time to take the reigns of power from Vito Genovese, who was fleeing a murder charge by running to Italy. Vito left Carmine in charge of all his operations, and used him as the long arm of mafia law to inflict justice upon anyone whom he saw fit to rub out. And Genovese was one vindictive bastard: Carmine was kept quite busy with this task.

One fellow that received a visit from Carmine was Carlo Tresca, a vocal New York opponent of Benito Mussolini. Vito was crawling up Mussolini's ass in Italy, so he sent Carmine over to have a lead-laced chat with Tresca. When the police found the body a day later, witnesses said they'd seen Carmine's car nearby on the night of the killing, but that wasn't enough to send him back to jail.

When Vito came back to the US in the 40's, Carmine became a freelance killer once again. Eventually, Carmine followed Vito's lead and branched out into the heroin smuggling business. He flew to Italy to set up an opium smuggling ring with the help of Lucky Luciano, and by the mid 50's he was raking in the dough from a smattering of smack smugglers .

Back to the Cooler

But in 1958, Galante's dumb ass got caught again. A federal judge sent both Carmine and Vito up the river to an Atlanta jail for considerable stints. Vito died in jail, but Carmine was paroled in 1974. Despite being held in a maximum security federal penitentiary, Carmine still managed to have one cigar a day while in the cooler, a testament to the corruptibility of prison guards and the firm hold the mafia has on the penal system.

As soon as he was released, Carmine went to New York. There, he swiftly grabbed up the slack left by the aging Carlo Gambino. He took over much of the Gambino family's operations and started killing Gambino henchmen left and right.

By 1978, Galante was muscling in on the businesses of all five New York crime families. He even gunned down most of the Genovese family's remaining bosses, sending a clear message to the heads of the five families that he was the new king of New York.

War Again

An open war erupted, and both sides took heavy casualties. Paul Castellano, Santos Trafficante Jr., and other big wigs in the national crime syndicate met and decided that Galante was fucking annoying. They sent word to some gorillas in Manhattan that Carmine should get a bullet in the fucking head, and soon.

And so, on July 12, 1979, the hit came down on Galante like a load of bricks. Galante, cigar in mouth, stopped off at Joe and Mary's Restaurant in Brooklyn to have a bite to eat and see his cousin. Outside on the patio, as he sat down to a plate of linguine, four men carrying machine guns charged his table and mowed him down, alongside his bodyguard and the owner of the restaurant.

Carmine died moments later, as a news photographer climbed onto the balcony overhead and snapped a famous picture. He had a cigar in his mouth and seven bullets in his chest.

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