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American Mafia Website - Dallas Bosses

It appears that the Mafia of Dallas began as a sort of underworld colony of the older and far more influential Louisiana Mafia. Mafiosi from the Pelican State are known to have established themselves in the Galveston-Houston area in the 1860s and can be found further inland in Bryan by around 1900. The Dallas crime family was probably established by 1910. It became influential in Oklahoma and Arkansas rackets and maintained close relationships with the crime families in New Orleans (plus the New Orleans Mafia satellite in Houston-Galveston) and Kansas City.

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1910 - Carlo T. Piranio (Born May 8, 1876, in Corleone, Sicily. Died Feb. 20, 1930, in Dallas.) Piranio - the name also has been written "Pirano" and "Praino" - was a native of Corleone, Sicily, and entered the U.S. about 1889, settling with his family in the Shreveport, Louisiana, area. He had connections with the underworld of New Orleans, including a family tie to Mafia leader Leoluca Trombatore. Piranio's relocation to Texas occurred after the Shreveport birth of his first son in 1904 and before the date of the 1910 U.S. Census, which found the Piranio family residing at 774 Main Street in downtown Dallas. The family soon moved to 2531 Dawson Street. In 1919, Piranio was arrested for receiving and concealing $2,500 worth of Liberty bonds stolen from a Dallas bank. Piranio's reign is regarded as generally peaceful, though it featured some gangland murders connected with the Restivo-Campanella feud of 1918-1920 and the "accidental" 1928 fatal shooting of uncooperative bootlegger Joseph DeCarlo.


1930 - Joseph Piranio (Born Aug. 11, 1878, in Corleone, Sicily. Died Oct. 27, 1956, in Dallas.) Carlo Piranio was succeeded by his younger brother Joseph. Joseph Piranio followed his brother from Shreveport to Dallas before 1910 but seems also to have maintained a Louisiana residence for a time. He became a full-time Dallas resident around 1914, sharing a home on Exposition Avenue with his in-law Frank Aloi, a grocery merchant. Finding success as a building contractor and real estate investor, Piranio moved his family into a more comfortable home at 1247 South Ewing Avenue. One of his neighbors (and a relative), Frank Ianni, served time for a 1926 narcotics conviction. A Piranio in-law, Vincent Vallone, became an important businessman and racketeer in the Houston area. Piranio was largely unbothered by law enforcement, possibly due to his nephew's service in the local district attorney's office. On October 27, 1956, about eight months after the death of his wife, Joseph Piranio died. The Dallas Morning News reported that he died after a brief illness. The FBI learned that Piranio killed himself.


Joseph Civello

1956 - Joseph Francis Civello (Born Feb. 3, 1903, in Lobdell, Louisiana. Died Jan. 17, 1970, in Dallas, Texas.) Piranio's successor, Joseph Civello, was born in Lobdell, a village northwest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When Civello was a youngster, his family relocated to the Dallas area, where his father Philip was a Mafia soldier under the Piranios. Joseph Civello was close to the Piranio family for years. The FBI noted that Civello served as a pallbearer at Joseph Piraino's funeral, and the Bureau called Civello a Piranio in-law. Civello's criminal record included convictions and jail terms for bootlegging and narcotics trafficking. He was suspected of murder in the July 14, 1928, shooting death of Joseph DeCarlo, but he claimed the shooting was accidental and his story was accepted. Sources later indicated that DeCarlo's murder had been ordered by the Piranio leadership because DeCarlo was refusing to make required tribute payments from his rackets. At the conclusion of his fifteen-year narcotics sentence, Civello became a major figure in the Piranio Mafia. Shortly after becoming boss, Civello once again attracted law enforcement attention by attending the 1957 national Mafia convention at Apalachin, New York. There were reports that Civello represented both his own Dallas organization and the New Orleans Crime Family of Carlos Marcello at the Apalachin convention.


1970 - Joseph Civello died of a heart attack early in 1970. There was some speculation that Civello was succeeded by one of two local restaurateurs, Joseph "Little Joe" Ianni (b. Aug. 23, 1913; d. May 29, 1973) or Joseph Campisi (b. Oct. 11, 1917; d. Jan. 12, 1990). Ianni, a naturalized immigrant from Cannitello, Calabria, Italy, and a relative of New York mobster Rocco Pellegrino, could not have served as boss for very long after Civello's death, as he passed away from a heart attack three years later. Campisi, a successful businessman and a Dallas native, repeatedly denied any role in organized crime. While both Campisi and Ianni had their tangles with law enforcement, the FBI did not find the rumors of their underworld command credible and concluded that the Dallas Crime Family quickly became inactive after Civello's death. It appears likely that some regional underworld rackets were folded back into New Orleans Mafia territory.