|Cleveland Mob Past & Present
“The Cleveland Mob still exists and may actually be growing... “
“The Cleveland Mafia died in the 1980s and hasn't returned… “
Two statements that seem to be at odds, yet both may be correct. But, how can that
be, since they seem to be talking about the same thing?
The fact is, they aren't. The statement about the Cleveland Mafia Family refers to a
specific hierarchy of ranking mob leaders, including a boss, underboss, consigliere
(advisor), captains, lieutenants, soldiers, and associates.
While there is no evidence that such a hierarchy exists, there's an abundance of
reports that a great deal of Mafia-related organized crime activities have recently
occurred, and are increasing in the Greater Cleveland area. That's the Cleveland mob,
as generally described by federal law enforcement sources.
Cleveland mobsters, in the traditional sense of the Italian-American Mafia, include as
many as 10 inducted members and their associates who vastly outnumber them and
have yet to be inducted. Furthermore, sources on both sides of the law say the
number of inducted Cleveland Mafia members have increased in recent years, up from
just two made men in the mid-1990s. But what remains in doubt is whether these
made members have taken on leadership roles to round out a Mafia hierarchy in
Ohio's largest metropolitan area.
So what’s the Cleveland Mob doing these days? Quite simply the same things they've
always been doing. In addition to legitimate enterprise, mob activities include
gambling, drugs, stolen cars, fencing, labor racketeering, and just about anything
that can make money.
Although in recent years Joseph J. "Joe Loose" Iacobacci, Jr., has been reported by
some law enforcement and media sources as the boss of Cleveland's Cosa Nostra, he
is now (semi) retired and living in Pennsylvania. Some of those same sources now
report the key figure in Cleveland is Russell J. Papalardo.
To learn about the resurgence of organized crime in Cleveland you must turn to
newspapers in other cities which have been touched by mobsters whose tentacles
extend outward from the Lake Erie metropolis.
One example is the article from The Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle
reported on Jan. 28, 2003 that the Cleveland Mob ran a stolen car ring that moved
heisted vehicles from Rochester to Cleveland. The source for that information was
Anthony P. Delmonti, a Cleveland con man turned federal informant who lived at the
fringes of Cleveland's mob scene, and reportedly a close associate of former mob
View Democrat and Chronicle Article
Russell J. Papalardo
|Joseph J. Iacobacci
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Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo
was the oldest living
Cleveland Mafia member.
When this picture was
taken in 1983, Lonardo, the
acting boss of the Cleveland
Mafia, was about to become
the highest-ranking mob
Lonardo died at the age of 95
Cleveland and its surrounding areas have quite a long and colorful history
when it comes to Mafia and Organized Crime. There are many facets to the
"Cleveland Mob"... in their activities, violence, and connections to other Mafia
cities. From the sugar wars, gambling and prostitution in Newport Kentucky,
Las Vegas, the infamous Mob Wars in the 1970’s, the Teamsters, and
everything in between.
Some Cleveland Mob activities are more widely recognized as they generated
more publicity than others. The most obvious… the mob wars of the mid-
seventies. It was at that time the press labeled Cleveland "Bomb City, U.S.A."
Thirty-six bombs exploded around Cleveland in 1976 alone.
Another active and well publicized period was the early 80’s… arrests,
convictions, plea deals, and mob informants. Much can be learned from the
testimonies and government documents from that period.
A good overview from that period comes from government documents of
Attorney General John Roberts. One document, a letter and outline of what
he called “Successes against Organized Crime” sent to Kenneth Starr in 1983,
detailing some of the investigations and arrests:
Naples was killed in a mob hit in
Youngstown in 1991 that the FBI
suspects was engineered by Lenny
Strollo became a government witness
Above: Photo of the Danny
Green murder/bomb site.
Probably one of the most
publicized and remembered
events related to Cleveland
Mafia activities in the late 70's.