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The Good Life

The Numbers War: Cubans vs. Italians

The battle over New York’s $100 million numbers racket
By T.J. English | From America’s Most Notorious Mobsters, November/December 2020
The Numbers War: Cubans vs. Italians
Photos (Left to Right)/David Pickoff via AP Photo/Mario Surnani via AP Photo
he New York numbers racket was a lucrative prize, fought over by Mafia boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno (right, with his trademark cigar) and Cuban mobster José Miguel Battle Sr. (left).
On the afternoon of October 27, 1984, little Jannin Toribio, age four, had no way of knowing that her young life was about to go up in flames. Nor did she know that her brief time on earth, shrouded in the innocence of childhood, would be but one of dozens of casualties in a horrific Mob war in the City of New York. That war, as brutal as it was, is now mostly forgotten, even though it changed the course of underworld history, leaving indelible scars on anyone caught in the conflagration. It was a pleasant day in the west Manhattan neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen. That morning, Jannin celebrated her birthday with a party among family and friends, and that …
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