According to newly released CIA documents, Santo Trafficante of Tampa, along with some other Mob bosses, conspired with the U.S. government to assassinate Fidel Castro in 1960. Food poisoning was to be the means.
To anyone who’s been around awhile, this was hardly news. Trafficante, who died in 1987, testified to the failed plot when called before the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978.
Moreover, he even put a patriotic spin on the CIA-recruited assignment. “Being that the government of the United States wanted it done,” Trafficante told the Committee, “I go along with it, the same thing as a war.”
But according to Trafficante’s late lawyer, Frank Ragano, there was more than underworld patriotism involved. And Trafficante was more than skeptical about trying to slip someone into Castro’s inner circle.
In his 1994 book, “Mob Lawyer,” Tampa native Ragano quotes Trafficante: “Sam (Giancana, the Mafia boss of Chicago) told me to play along to help Johnny (Roselli, a Las Vegas underworld figure with deportation issues), and I introduced the CIA guys to some of my Cuban friends and Raul Gonzalez (a Cuban-exile acquaintance from Havana). The CIA had all this foolish talk about poisoning Castro. Those crazy people. They gave me some pills to kill Castro. I just flushed them down the toilet.
“Nothing ever came of it. We didn’t expect to make any money, but we had a windfall. They paid us a lot of money and nobody intended to do a damn thing. It was a real killing.”