Australia is not a country that springs to mind when we think about an ingrained mafia culture. But look again and it’s an obvious candidate, specifically as an immigrant country as it has been for the last two hundred years. Italians and Irish immigrants rubbed shoulders with other Mediterranean newcomers and more recently the immigration has been from Vietnam, China and other parts of South and South East Asia.
The first obvious candidate for organised crime is the Italian community and this is particularly well-represented in Melbourne, Victoria. Operations are of a slightly smaller
scale here than in their Italian or U.S. counterparts but the crime has been no less violent. Firstly we’ll have a look at The Honoured Society, a group with links to the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta organisation in Italy. It’s first known acts can be traced back to mid-1940s when an associate of Rosario “Ross” Gangemi, (head of The Honoured Society) named Michele Scriva, killed Giuseppe “Fat Joe” Pasquale, stabbing him more than 90 times in the process.
This particular group controlled a relatively small area – Melbourne’s fruit and vegetable
market, but was also almost certainly involved in drug trafficking. When Gangemi died in 2008, the funeral was well attended and one of the mourners was Mick “The Don” Gatto, a ranking member of the rival Melbourne Italian group The Carlton Crew.
The Carlton Crew is a much younger organisation, founded in the late 1970s by Alphonse Gangitano it rose to prominence during the Melbourne Gangland Killings, although they had established themselves before then with violently enforced protection rackets and drug trafficking. They appear to have feuded with everyone, including the Honoured Society, fellow Italians the Calabrese Family and the notorious Moran Family.
The gangland killings occurred between 1998 and 2010 and involved the deaths of an incredible 36 underworld figures. At least ten of the murders are believed to have been perpetrated by Carl Williams, a Melbourne drug smuggler with no particular gang affinity. It was his wounding by Jason Maron which began the decade long battle for vengeance and control.
Part Two follows….