Crime History, March 12, 1909: Pioneer in fight against mafia gunned down during secret mission

On this day, March 12, in 1909, Joseph Petrosino, a New York City police officer who was a pioneer in the fight against organized crime, was gunned down in Italy while investigating the mafia.

Joseph Petrosino

Joseph Petrosino

Petrosino was in charge of the New York Police Department’s elite Italian Squad.

Among his exploits: Petrosino busted the mobster Vito Cascioferro and had him sent back to Italy; he warned the Secret Service about an Italian anarchist plot to assassinate President McKinley; and he put away members of the Black Hand, the precursor to the Genovese Mafia family, in an extortion plot against the famous opera singer Enrico Caruso.

In 1909, Petrosino was sent to Italy to infiltrate the Sicilian Mafia and uncover the roots of the Black Hand gangsters that had immigrated to the United States.

But the mob got a tip about Petrosino’s true identity and had ordered him killed. Petrosino received a message to meet an informant in the city’s Piazza Marina. While waiting for his source, he was gunned down by assassins.

Many experts believe, Casioferro, who had become a powerful Sicilian leader, was behind the killing.

More than 250,000 people attended his New York funeral. Some of his crime-fighting techniques are still practiced today.

— Scott McCabe



  1. Reblogged this on

Leave a Reply - We reserve the right to remove hate speech. Use your big-people words.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: