Carlo Gambino was born on August 24, 1902 in the city of Palermo, Sicily. He moved to the United States at the age of nineteen and started to settle down in Brooklyn with the assistance of relatives already living there. He got involved with the darker side of the city and was soon running bootlegging operations.
On May 23, 1939, Carlo was arrested for conspiracy to defraud the United States of liquor taxes and given a sentence of nearly two years in prison. After eight months, the conviction was reversed, allowing him to walk free again.
When World War 2 started and ration stamps were issued, Carlo developed an elaborate scheme to steal stamps. Even when the government started hiding the ration stamps in banks, Carlo paid off the officials from the ration office to get massive amounts of stamps. From ration stamps and bootlegging, Carlo made a fortune of millions over the course of World War 2.
Carlo’s contacts in Palermo soon allowed him some new opportunities. He set up an operation that imported narcotics from Palermo into the United States, using several different routes. This allowed him to be promoted in 1957 to under boss in the Mangano Family underneath Albert Anastasia. On October 24 of that year, Anastasia was killed in a barbershop, making Carlo the boss of the family. Later, it was found out that Carlo was the man who ordered the hit in order to seize power.
To the outside and legitimate world, Carlo Gambino was a wealthy labor consultant. Carlo was investing massive amounts of his illegal money in legitimate businesses such as restaurants, clubs, and meat markets. The Gambino Family had huge amounts of power and was making unbelievable amounts of money with its massive network of businesses.
Eventually, the United States tried to deport Carlo, but failed every repeated attempt since they had no concrete evidence against him. During the 70s, after his wife died and his health began to deteriorate, Carlo decided to appoint someone to take over his position. He made a surprising move, choosing the unpopular Paul Castellano instead of Neil Dellacroce (his under boss). The resulting rift in the family eventually resulted in the assassination of Castellano and the rise of John Gotti.
Carlo Gambino died on October 15, 1976 in his home in New York. He is remembered today for his ability to avoid prosecution and walking away from organized crime untouchable by the government.