Wars, Conflicts + Vendetta’s : - “Green Ones” – Russo /Santino factions [St. Louis].
Although there was “Mafia” activity in St. Louis as early as the 1890’s, there was no dominant organized Family there until the 1930’s. By the prohibition era, the leading gangs were the non-Italian Egan’s Rats and Hogan groups. Meanwhile in the Italian districts, various Sicilian factions fought for supremacy during the 1920’s.
By the mid-1920’s a group called the “Green Ones”, from the towns in Palermo Province, came to dominance. This group was led by the Giannola brothers, Vito + John, and their enforcer Alfonso Palazzolo. They had gained this position by defeating, and forcing out of town, the previous dominant faction. The Green Ones had allies in Springfield, and the Capone gang in Chicago.
They were in an uneasy alliance with a faction from Agrigento Province, under Pasquale Santino. Santino bristled under the Green Ones dominance, but did not have the strength to compete with them.
The other emerging faction were the American born second generation local youths, led by the Russo brothers Willie, Anthony + James. This group included future Mafiosi like the Licavoli, Bommarito and Giammanco families. The Russo family was related by marriage to the influential Aiello family of Chicago, Springfield and Milwaukee. At this time the members were not “made” Mafiosi, but associates.
The Green Ones reputation had been damaged by losing a conflict with the multi-ethnic Cuckoo gang in 1925-26. This encouraged both the Santino + Russo factions to become more assertive. To add to this already explosive situation, was the fact that the Russo and Giannola families supported opposing sides in Chicago’s ongoing gang war. The catalyst for the conflict was a double-cross perpetrated by Alfonso Palazzolo on his personal enemy Anthony Russo.
9th August : - Anthony Russo + Vincent Spicuzza killed in Chicago / suspects : - Palazzolo, Frank Agrusa, Matt Manzella, Giuseppe Vitale + Vito Impastato.
24th August : - Benny Giammanco [Russo faction] killed.
27th August : - Vincenzo Dattilo [Russo faction] killed.
9th September : - Alfonso Palazzolo killed / suspects : - Santino, Ralph Caleca, Joe Bommarito, Saro Mantia + Vincent Barbera.
10th November : - Frank + Robert Aiello [Russo relatives] killed in Springfield. / suspect : - Matt Manzella.
12th November : - Charles Casamento [Green Ones] killed.
15th November : - Benedetto Amato [Green Ones] killed / suspect : - Dominic Emma + Joseph Evola [Santino faction].
17th November : - Pasquale Santino killed.
6th December : - Joseph Lopiparo [Santino faction / father of Anthony] wounded.
28th December : - Vito Giannola killed / suspects : - Michael Dattilo + Jack Griffen [Russo faction].
Same day : - Jack Griffen [Russo faction] wounded.
19th January : - Alliance between Russo and Santino factions dissolves into violence with an attack on the Santino faction by the Russo gang.
18th February : - Thomas Cammarata [Russo faction] wounded.
April : - Peace meeting in NYC attended by Frank Agrusa [Green Ones] and Willie Russo agrees to end conflict.
The Russo gang dissolved after losing another conflict, against the Cuckoo gang, and the surviving brothers left St. Louis. The Licavoli and Bommarito families moved to Detroit. Ralph Caleca headed the surviving members, and eventually became a leader of the St. Louis Family.
The Santino faction, now called the Pillow gang, survived under first Charles Fresina, then Thomas Buffa until becoming part of the Family. Buffa may have been head during the late 1930’s.
The Green Ones, now under Frank Agrusa, also remained an independent group for some time. At some point around 1933-34 the various factions seem to have come together to form a Family, possibly with Agrusa as head. Some members of Green Ones relocated to Springfield, and worked under Frank Zito.