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Detroit Mafia 

The Art And Science Of Body Disposal

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Detroit Mafia
The Art And Science Of Body Disposal

Detroit has no shortage of gripping mob tales and assorted lore. After Hoffa vanished, that was it — fuhgetaboutit — and the Detroit mafia achieved worldwide recognition. Now, the team of Scott M. Burnstein and Al Profit have presented a concise, unbiased overview of the Detroit mafia family in their independent true crime documentary Detroit Mob Confidential, shot on location in Detroit last year.

Scott Burnstein, author of Motor City Mafia: A Century of Organized Crime in Detroit, has intensified his efforts to make the Detroit mob more visible. Sitting with me at Barnes & Noble in Grosse Pointe, Burnstein claims, “We’re trying to shed light and perspective on an issue that the media has stopped covering. The Italian organized crime syndicate in Detroit is able to easily blend into society since they’re very intertwined into legitimate interests and the Detroit family is an anomaly; they exist on a higher plane than all other mafia families, since they’re an actual interlinked family.” Neither condemning nor glorifying, DMC strives to strictly inform the viewer.

Names in the documentary are familiar: Black Bill Tocco, Joe Zerilli, Tony Jack and Billy Jack Giacalone, Little Vince Meli, who graduated from Notre Dame, and Papa John Priziola who hails from Terrasini and the Trapani Province in Sicily. In 1931, Black Bill Tocco and his underboss Joe Zerilli ascended to prominence in Detroit, allegedly joining forces with Pete Licavoli’s River Gang in Wyandotte. According to DPD Commissioner Edwards, in 1963, Zerilli, John Priziola, Peter Licavoli, Angelo Meli and William Tocco ran the Detroit mob. Records also claim that from 1964 to 1977, Joe Zerilli was boss; from 1977 to the present, Zerilli’s former underboss and son of Black Bill, Jack Tocco, became leader. In the documentary, Burnstein claims that, “Jack Giacalone will inherit the title of Detroit mob boss when Jack Tocco [the longest serving LCN boss in the US] passes.” The Detroit family continues to thrive because of their fierce code of loyalty, or omertà, broken only by Zerilli’s grandson, Nove Tocco, who, faced with 19 years in prison, opted to produce for a rival outfit (the FBI) in exchange for leniency.  

A lifelong Detroiter, Al Profit, holds a masters degree in economics, and West Bloomfield native Burnstein attended private school Roeper in Birmingham. Burnstein participated in an episode on Detroit for the Gangland series on the History Channel and is currently writing the autobiography of White Boy Rick.

Get it at detroitmob.com.  | RDW



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