The discovery of a meeting of Italian and Sicilian racketeers from around the U.S. 50 years ago today pushed the FBI into a fight against organized crime.
Many of the nation's reputed crime bosses attended the mid-November 1957 convention at Joseph Barbara's home in rural Apalachin, NY (above right). When police, alerted by State Police Sergeant Edgar Croswell, crashed the party, they found mob bigshots like Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Joe Profaci, Santo Trafficante and Russell Bufalino.
Though there were insufficient grounds to hold any of the more than 60 mobsters rounded up, the documented presence of so many underworld characters from so many U.S. regions made the existence of a nationwide network of crime undeniable. FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, who had repeatedly insisted that there was no such network, was compelled address the problem.