Mobsters in Miami: Five Crime Bosses That Made the Magic City Home

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Mike Burstyn as the mob accountant in Lansky.
Known as the "mob's accountant," Meyer Lansky was financier who worked with golden era gangsters like Charles "Lucky" Luciano and childhood friend "Bugsy" Siegel. Though  often portrayed as a secondary character in Hollywood mob hits, Lansky might have been the most influential crime boss of the entire Twentieth Century, helping establish organized crime syndicates from New York to Las Vegas to Cuba.

Finally, the only mobster to ever make the Forbes Wealthiest People List is getting his theatrical due with Lansky, which opens at the Aventura Arts and Culture Center next Wednesday. It's fitting that the production finds its way to South Florida -like most things New York--because Lansky spent a good portion of his late life living in Miami Beach, where he died in 1980 at 83. But Lansky is only one of a long list of mobsters who called Miami home. Here are five others all time mobsters who lived or got pinched in the 3-0-5.

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The gangster and Zo.
5. Chris Paciello
Not the most powerful mobster by a long stretch, but the one who came to epitomize the rebirth of South Beach in the 1990s, Paciello was SOBE's "It" boy for a good decade. New Times even did a four part series on Paciello entitlted "Goon Over Miami." He eventually did time for his connection to a murder and robbery. Even so, his dalliances with such heavyweights as Madonna qualify Paciello for our list.

 4. Griselda Blanco
The star of Cocaine Cowboys 2: Hustlin' With the Godmother was one bad mama jamma. Before she went to the West Coast she was instrumental in bringing the Colombian Cartel to Miami...and killing a lot of dudes.

3. Tony Montana
What's that? Tony Montana is a fictional character. Maybe so, but he's done at least as much as Crockett and Tubbs to establish and international identity for the city. And his Q Score trumps everybody else on the Miami mobster list. So take that you stinking cockroach.

2. Leonid "Tarzan" Fainberg
The least popular of the list but maybe the most unctuous, Fainberg is why everybody assumes all strip club owners are Russian. Tarzan came to Miami after the Soviet Union fell and had his dirty hands in everything from drugs to human trafficking as he brought girls from Moscow to work at Porky's as strippers/prostititutes. He lived in Miami from 1990 to 1997, before being busted and deported to Israel. This knucklehead also once tried to buy a Russian submarine for drug smuggling.

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The real scarface was our No. 1 mobster.
1. Al Capone
The original Scarface and most popular gangster of all time, Capone lived on and off in Miami, and died in his Palm Island home in 1947. He also went to court in the 11th Judicial Court in downtown Miami in 1930 to defend himself on charges of perjury--a case that was recently re-opened.


Lansky opens at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center (3385 NE 188th St., Aventura) and runs through January 30. Call 954-462-0222 or visit aventuracenter.org.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

Location Info

Map

Aventura Arts and Cultural Center

3385 NE 188th St., Aventura, FL

Category: General


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