| Lists |

Mobsters in Miami: Five Crime Bosses That Made the Magic City Home

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Known as the "mob's accountant," Meyer Lansky was financier who worked with golden era gangsters like Charles "Lucky" Luciano and childhood friend "Bugsy" Siegel. Though  often portrayed as a secondary character in Hollywood mob hits, Lansky might have been the most influential crime boss of the entire Twentieth Century, helping establish organized crime syndicates from New York to Las Vegas to Cuba.

Finally, the only mobster to ever make the Forbes Wealthiest People List is getting his theatrical due with Lansky, which opens at the Aventura Arts and Culture Center next Wednesday. It's fitting that the production finds its way to South Florida -like most things New York--because Lansky spent a good portion of his late life living in Miami Beach, where he died in 1980 at 83. But Lansky is only one of a long list of mobsters who called Miami home. Here are five others all time mobsters who lived or got pinched in the 3-0-5.

5. Chris Paciello

Not the most powerful mobster by a long stretch, but the one who came to

epitomize the rebirth of South Beach in the 1990s, Paciello was SOBE's

"It" boy for a good decade. New Times even did a four part series on

Paciello entitlted "Goon Over Miami." He

eventually did time for his connection to a murder and robbery. Even so,

his dalliances with such heavyweights as Madonna qualify Paciello for

our list.

 4. Griselda Blanco

The star of Cocaine Cowboys 2: Hustlin' With the Godmother was one bad mama jamma. Before she went to the West Coast she was

instrumental in bringing the Colombian Cartel to Miami...and killing a lot of dudes.

3. Tony Montana

What's that? Tony Montana is a fictional character. Maybe so, but he's

done at least as much as Crockett and Tubbs to establish and

international identity for the city. And his Q Score trumps everybody

else on the Miami mobster list. So take that you stinking cockroach.

2. Leonid "Tarzan" Fainberg

The least popular of the list but maybe the most unctuous, Fainberg is

why everybody assumes all strip club owners are Russian. Tarzan came to Miami after the Soviet Union fell and had his dirty hands

in everything from drugs to human trafficking as he brought girls from

Moscow to work at Porky's as strippers/prostititutes. He lived in Miami

from 1990 to 1997, before being busted and deported to Israel. This

knucklehead also once tried to buy a Russian submarine for drug


1. Al Capone

The original Scarface and most popular gangster of all time, Capone

lived on and off in Miami, and died in his Palm Island home in 1947. He

also went to court in the 11th Judicial Court in downtown Miami in 1930

to defend himself on charges of perjury--a case that was recently


Lansky opens at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Aventura Arts and Cultural

Center (3385 NE 188th St., Aventura) and runs through January 30. Call

954-462-0222 or visit aventuracenter.org.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.