New Book Details How a Bay of Pigs Survivor Went on to Become a Brutal Mobster

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Mar/20/2018

In April 1961, about 1,500 Cuban exiles trained and backed by the CIA set out to invade and overthrow the Fidel Castro regime.  Vice Media profiled one of these individuals, a man by the name of José Miguel Battle who would go on to become one of America’s most notorious mobsters.  He was ultimately taken down for good in Miami in 2004 while attending and betting on cockfights.  The charges included five murders, four arson attacks resulting in eight deaths, and more than $1.5 billion collected from drug trafficking, bookmaking, and numbers rackets.

A former Havana cop. He went on to reinvent himself in the US as El Padrino, a "Godfather" of the Cuban-American Mafia.  It made more than a billion dollars on gambling rings and used arson, beatings, and assassins to deal with its enemies.

Seth Ferranti writes for Vice:

Thanks in part to his connections to both legendary Italian mafiosi and the Havana underworld, he became a sort of king of the numbers racket in the New York/New Jersey metro area. With criminal interests all along the Eastern seaboard, Battle’s run continued into the George W. Bush era.

TJ English has a new book out this week (the day of this writing, March 20, in fact) about Battle.  The Corporation: An Epic Story of the Cuban American Underworld details his life as a brutal mob boss who modeled himself after Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone.

English told Vice Media that Battle learned all about corruption while a vice cop in Havana, Cuba, and this ultimately taught him how the world operates. 

“How organized crime is a conduit between the upper world (the business and political class) and the underworld (the criminals and gangsters),” English explained.  “Battle delivered the skim from the casinos to the presidential palace. He was the go-between, the bagman between Meyer Lanksy and President Fulgencio Batista and his government. Battle really understood how you needed to take care of people within the system. Payment would be made to whoever needed.”

Once in the United States it was Battle's dream to set up a gambling empire based on a numbers racket, or what Latinos called “bolita".

English details how Battle beat once beat a murder rap through a technicality then went on to murder the female witness who testified against him. 

For fans of the legendary 1983 film Scarface, English's book discusses the Mariel boatlift of Cubans into Florida and how Al Pacino's Tony Montana compares to the real man they called El Padrino?

"José Miguel Battle was more of an establishment figure, the guy with lots of connections in the upper world. Tony Montana was a refugee, a guy with nothing, from the lowest level of the gutter who rose up. El Padrino was much more of an old-school don, because of his understanding of how the system worked. But the Mariel boatlift did have an impact on The Corporation. When they arrived in New Jersey and Miami, they were immediately integrated into the criminal underworld, and they were the kinda guys who would do the type of criminal assignments that other people might not be willing to do. Murders, all kinds of hard-line criminal activities. Some of the most violent criminal activity was done by the Marielitos, as they were called."

T.J. English is a noted journalist, screenwriter, and author of the New York Times bestsellers Havana Nocturne and Paddy Whacked, as well as The Westies, a national bestseller, and Born to Kill, which was nominated for an Edgar Award. He has written for Esquire, Playboy, and New York magazine, among other publications. His screenwriting credits include episodes for the television crime dramas NYPD Blue and Homicide, for which he was awarded the Humanitas Prize. He lives in New York City.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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