From the author of the star reviewed Garden State Gangland comes an in-depth exposé on East Harlem's notorious Purple Gang whose murderous exploits became a media obsession and Mafia lynchpin.
In the late 1970s, a string of seemingly unconnected murders had Harlem police and federal authorities at their wits’ end until they realized several commonalities. The victims were all either Mafia members or potential witnesses of Mafia activity and they’d all been shot from .22 pistols traced back to a single private sale in Florida. From these details, the FBI and police were able to build a profile of a rogue sect of Mafia hitmen known as the East Harlem Purple Gang.
Starting on the fringes of Mafia families, the Purple Gang members became indispensable and installed members in the highest ranks of the Genovese, Bonanno, and Lucchese families. Often serving as freelance hitmen, kidnappers, and drug traffickers, the Purple Gang’s exploits quickly crossed into mythology as media outlets scrambled to keep up with new murders and the law’s crusade to bring the gang members to justice. Sifting through the mystery and mythos, author Scott M. Deitche brings readers into Harlem’s gritty streets to experience the Purple Gang’s reign of terror, the investigators who tried to bring them down, and the gang members who either suffered violent ends or are still at large today.
Scott M. Deitche is the author of multiple books on organized crime, including Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld and critically acclaimed, Garden State Gangland: The Rise of the Mob in New Jersey. He has written articles on organized crime for local and national magazines and newspapers. Scott has been featured on The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, American Heroes Channel, A&E, C-SPAN, Oxygen, as well as over 50 national and international news and radio shows. He is a member of The Mob Museum’s Advisory Council. Scott currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Chapter 1: Origins
Chapter 2: What’s in a Name?
Chapter 3: A Capacity for Violence
Chapter 4: The Drug Game
Chapter 5: Rockland County
Chapter 6: The Milgram Murder
Chapter 7: .22 Caliber Killers
Chapter 8: The Shopping Spree
Chapter 9: The Viserto Drug Trial
Chapter 10: The Early Eighties
Chapter 11: A Killing on Thunderboat Row
Chapter 12: The Crackdown
Chapter 13: The Michael Meldish Murder
Chapter 14: The Leaders of the Families
In this latest scorching true-crime thriller from Deitche, the author's writing is as entertaining as his real-life characters are ruthless.
It’s always been a wonder that the names Michael Meldish and Angelo Prisco haven’t achieved the notoriety they deserve among fans of true crime stories. Finally, thanks to the terrific writing and deep research of Scott Deitche, these leaders of the violent 1970s-80s East Harlem Purple Gang get their due in The Hitmen. I’ve been waiting for someone to tackle this story for a long time, and Scott’s book made it worth the wait. It must be a part of any true crime library.
This is a fascinating secret history of a mafia legend called the Purple Gang. Scott Deitche's Hitman informs and entertains, replete with dramatic narratives and colorful, larger-than-life figures. The balanced analysis of evidence is further strengthened by ample original reporting and Deitche's sharp prose.
From arson to homicide and from collections to narcotics trafficking, when it came time to outsource muscle in Los Angeles during the 1940s and 50s, the mafia and syndicate turned to the infamous Sica brothers for talent. As if a conduit or a rung in gangster vetting, sometimes these hardcase associates that strolled through their doors were made into the local mafia. And, as Scott Deitche’s newest offering has so rightly illustrated, matters weren’t all that different out in East Harlem a couple of decades later, when the East Coast mob began enlisting the Busch League brute of a batch of local upstarts steeped in the drug trade. Members of the press and law enforcement had a name for this emerging faction of violent knockaround guys feared throughout New York and New Jersey. They called them the new Purple Gang. And eventually these hungry thugs thickened the ranks of the Genovese, Lucchese, and Bonanno families.