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Mafia Conference in Havana, Part 2
Upon arriving in Havana, Luciano is picked up by childhood friend Meyer Lansky and taken to the Hotel Nacional where he registers under his real name – Salvatore Lucania – in a luxurious suite that Lansky has reserved for him. In The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, Luciano recalls that for the first time since his imprisonment in 1936 that `there was no handcuffs on me and nobody was breathin’ over my shoulder.` Plus the mob leader said he felt he had spread enough money around and had taken the necessary precautions on his sojourn to Havana to avoid arousing the suspicions of Harry Anslinger of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dewey.

Before returning to Miami, Lansky scheduled a major mob confab at the Hotel Nacional for the week of Dec. 22, 1946. Luciano moved out of the hotel and into a spacious home in the Havana suburb of Miramar. Lansky shuttled back and forth between Miami and Havana, keeping Luciano informed of the upcoming meeting and making plans for Lucky to enjoy an extended stay in Cuba. He suggested that Lucky Luciano purchase an interest in the casino at the Hotel Nacional, controlled jointly by Lansky and Cuban politician Fulgencio Batista, for $150,000. Instead of paying that amount out of his own pocket, Luciano recounted to his biographers that he told Lansky that invitees to the Dec. 22 meeting would `bring envelopes to welcome me back again across the Atlantic.` These `Christmas presents` totaled over $200,000, which Luciano used to purchase an interest in the casino.

Luciano’s long-range plan was to induce Dewey to rescind his deportation. Lucky Luciano figured the best way to accomplish this was for him and his associates to provide financial backing for Dewey’s presidential campaign in 1948. Once elected President, Luciano expected Dewey to show his appreciation for Luciano by rescinding the deportation order. While waiting the two years for this to happen, Lansky negotiated six-month extensions of Luciano’s visa with the Cuban minister of the Interior.

One week prior to the Dec. 22 meeting, Vito Genovese arrived to see Luciano. The two men had been friends since the 1920s. When the five New York families were established in 1931, Luciano selected Genovese to serve as his underboss. Luciano would soon come to realize that Genovese was a conniving, greedy, backstabbing individual. He quickly lost all respect for him. Shortly after Lucky Luciano’s arrest on prostitution charges, Genovese became acting boss, but only briefly. He soon fled to Italy to avoid a murder indictment. In 1945, Genovese was apprehended in Italy by an agent of the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S Army and extradited to Brooklyn to stand trial. When the key witness against Genovese was poisoned in his jail cell, Genovese was released on June 11, 1946, just six months before the Havana meeting.

by Allan May, from
Article ID 225
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