The U.S. Enlisted the Father of Organized Crime to Help Win WWII
During World War II, the best route to invade Italy was by first taking Sicily, and the American brass was eager to obtain any sort of intel that might lube their efforts to give the island a steaming hot freedom injection. Luckily, they had an ace in the hole: the father of organized crime himself, Lucky Luciano, a Sicily-born American citizen who was, at the time, an inmate of the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York.
He was the dirtiest bastard in there (until Ol' Dirty Bastard showed up).
Luciano was surprisingly patriotic, or perhaps just surprisingly eager to escape: His initial offer was to personally parachute behind enemy lines and act as a liaison for Allied troops, and totally for-realsies he promised to come back to prison when it was all over. Once Naval Intelligence officers finished sharing a healthy belly laugh, they realized that Luciano's involvement -- while perhaps not to the extreme that he'd suggested -- wasn't such a crazy idea after all. His extensive network of Mafia contacts, plus the weight his name carried, could very well help the American military establish covert operations on the island.
The intel provided by Luciano's contacts proved invaluable, as did the doors that opened up with the mere mention of his name (some agents referred to it as a "magic word"). In one daring heist on an Italian naval base, Mafiosos rolled up, peppered the German guards outside with their Tommy guns, blew open a safe containing a veritable paint-by-numbers schematic of the island's defenses, and handed that treasure straight over to the Americans. Gangsters vs. Nazis sounds like a far-fetched Call of Duty mod, but at one point, it was a wartime reality.
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