It’s the early hours of December 11, 1978. A black van has just pulled up outside a deserted warehouse at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Inside, a group of men nervously watch the minutes tick by. They’re about to attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history – and the aftermath of their shocking crime will be felt for generations to come.
Originating in Sicily, the American Mafia took root when Italian immigrants began arriving in the United States in the 19th century. There, they settled with their families in impoverished neighborhoods in parts of New York City. They also moved to other urban areas such as Chicago and New Orleans.
In New York City, the neighborhoods of East Harlem, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side soon became known for their high concentration of Italian immigrants. And just as the newcomers brought traditional food and customs with them, they also introduced their familiar system of organized crime.