Time to take a closer look on the other side of the American Justice System with this mind blowing interview!! I sat down with Ronald Fino, whom is a noted Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency undercover operative and author of The Triangle Exit on of the best books that I had read, and as well my very good friend. I happen to have meet Ronald at the last year’s Mob-Con, He was one of the first people whom I’ve met that night, and we really became fast friends.
I hope that you all enjoy this treat.
1. Reading your book was such a fascinated read, about your life as the heir to the Buffalo mafia’s throne that turned his back to fight for the rights of American Justice. This book reads like a thriller movie as he walks along on a dangers path between good and evil. Could you sum up what you did so my reader can under you story? I was never the heir to the throne. I was born in Buffalo, New York. My father Joe rose through the ranks of the Buffalo Mafia under long-time mob boss Stefano Magaddino, attaining the rank of captain, overseeing his own crew.
I joined the corrupt Laborers’ Local 210, controlled by Magaddino, and after years of experiencing the corruption up close, I decided to run for business manager and clean up the union. After an overly successful election, I found that the power did not lie with the union, but powerful members of the Buffalo Mafia.
Not long after I made the dangerous decision to become a contract employee for the FBI and for 17 years reported everything he learned about the Buffalo Mafia back to them. After his cover was corrupted he went to work undercover in Russia, the Middle East, Belarus and was in the middle of international arms negotiations and tried to broker peace in The Gambia after a coup ousted their president.
I have been around the world three times, and seen and heard more than most could only imagine, I have had his cover nearly compromised numerous times.
I have taught at FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, the CIA in McClain VA, worked in Moscow, Russia, Toronto, Ontario, Washington. DC, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Chicago, New York City, Boston, and Buffalo, NY.
The threat from Russian organized crime in the United States has been a major concern for sometime. Most would agree that increased organized crime activity is widespread and rapidly growing. Its ability to change methods of operations creates a difficult challenge for law enforcement and society as a whole.
Russian organized crime (ROC) is increasingly complicated to investigate. The crimes are committed after careful planning and involve several Russian criminal groups and networks and include people forced to support the criminal activity. They have no limitations or boundaries and you will find Russian organized crime benefiting from the sales of fruit juice to supplying terrorist with weaponry.
Public unawareness and the limitation of financial and human resources have and do create a serious obstacle for law enforcement. Equally troublesome is in cutting thru the red tape involved in obtaining quality information relating ROC international activity. Treaties and dependence on other countries intelligence and enforcement organizations severely disrupt conducting a proper investigation.
In Russia and many Eastern European countries, graft is a way of life and is expected. Many positions in their respective governments are bought and require a hefty payment or an ability to reward. As an example: Vladimir Loginov who is currently the head of the State owned operation (Soyuzplodoimport) that handles the export of all Russian alcoholic beverages. He is by law is supposed to answer to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Kremlin. This in reality is not the case and his appointment was brought about by Russian criminal elements and in return he utilizes his office to further their exploits. The same holds true for steel manufacturing, medical supplies and just about every industry. What compounds the problem is that the very law enforcement officials that are supposed to protect the public are also controlled by ROC. While attending a meeting in Moscow I have witnessed to some extent just how vast the ROC network is in this country and its ties to Moscow, Minsk, Kiev and other locations in Eastern Europe. Anyone that thinks that they do not deal with terrorist or are in no way connected to terror does not understand ROC.
As ROC activity in the USA expands so does the migration of its members and their criminal associates. No longer is it confined to NYC, Chicago, LA and Boston. Today the networks operate in each and every State and their illegal activity runs the gamut from stolen cars, phony charities, false ID’s, passports, visas, stealing state secret, child porn, illegal arms, money laundering, narcotics, fraudulent insurance claims, medical bills, cyber crime and on and on.
In my opinion the key to fighting the real red menace is through quality intelligence and fortunately ROC operations can be penetrated. It takes hard work and time but their very greed and looseness of structure (unlike the Cosa Nostra) opens them to infiltration. The next step is to pierce the ubiquitous corporate structures that are created to show legitimacy as well as confuse the investigator. With most ROC members a 3-5 year jail sentence is not enough to flip and the preference is to do the time. If however a ROC member or associate is facing a long hard sentence and believes that his cooperation will remain clandestine then substantial information relating to ROC networks and its criminal exploits here and abroad can be obtained.
Since the World Trades Center disaster, American law enforcement agencies have had to change there priorities and utilize limited resources to combat terrorism and its threat against our homeland and people. Most of us know that America is at war and it will take diligence and many years of hardship before it is won. This redirection is known by criminal groups such as ROC and they fully know how to exploit it. The ATF is now heavily focused on explosives and provides only a few agents to investigate criminal tobacco and liquor crimes. The vast abundance of sea containers coming here are a burdening problem for customs agents. The same holds true for the Bureau who has had to meet the substantial challenges posed by terrorists. We must not lose sight however that many Eastern European criminals are without conscience and are involved with numerous terrorist groups throughout the world including those directly and indirectly threatening our nation. Democracy’s and there basic freedoms afford a prime opportunity for ROC to branch out and exploit an unknowing public.
I found working in the arms smuggling arena one of the most trying times I have ever experienced. We are in trouble folks, as long as this practice continues. I chased Victor Bout, the noted arms smuggler that is currently awaiting trial in the United States.
He is only the tip of the iceberg and in my book I delve deeper into the arcane world of trafficking and the eventual tools that kill people throughout the world. It is not an easy task in tracking down these criminals of society. It is a world shrouded in mystery and Intrigue. This is a big money business with people here and abroad that reap the whirlwind of profits from this inhuman practice.
I know that governments do it to keep countries aligned with them which is an unfortunate practice that reflects loudly on our dark side.
Mankind is still riddled with this primal instinct that somehow must be overcome. How? Now one has a simple or a long answer and only time can and the good efforts from good hearts can act as a challenge. As Governments and as individuals we must find a way or our very survival will be the price we pay.
2. What make you pick the FBI/CIA over the Mafia? I never liked what the mob was doing to innocent people.
3. Have your job ever took you to Las Vegas back in the day? Yes, I testified in the killing of Herbie Blitstein killing case. Before that I would meet with many mobsters from around the USA at Labor Union conventions. I was a close friend of the now deceased Dennis Gomes, who was the Chief Executive officer of the Tropicana
4. One of the question I been wanting to ask you, how did you wind up being a speaker at Mob-Con? I have testified in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Newark, Las Vegas, Albany, Cleveland, and Detroit against the mob. I Knew more Cosa Nostra and Chicago outfit leaders and mobsters then the mobsters themselves. I think it is a great venue to not only tell the role that justice played but equally to hear the mobsters who are doing the right thing “going straight” and telling their side of the story. The public has a great opportunity to actually meet the very people that movies such as Goodfellas are based on.
5. What was Russia like? Do you missed it? I enjoyed Russia and especially Belarus very much. The people I met there are just that people. Same wants and needs. I developed friends at the highest level of their respective government(s) and listened to their side of the story. While there I met my wife and my youngest son was born there.
6. Do you want to say anymore in this interview?
For far too long; many in the public have been enamored with the mob and its criminal acts.
The fascination with this cold-blooded brotherhood that is embedded in their very being is mostly the result of Hollywood’s glamorization of the Mafia and organized crime.
I have heard; “well, they do not cause me any problems” or “the FBI is out to get them even if it means framing them.” Some naively go as far as saying; “If they criminals why haven’t they been convicted and put in jail?
This is most unfortunate because they do hurt each and every one of us in North America and many other countries around the world. Does anyone really think that their activities are limited to gambling and labor racketeering?
Take only a few moments and if you ponder over the things that hurt you and your family such as: contaminated soil, the air you breath, the taxes you pay, the politicians you elect, the high price of food, child pornography, illicit drugs that are sold near our children’s schools, tainted court proceedings, some news and media journalists, women slavery, telephone scams, embezzlement, stock and securities fraud, counterfeiting, organ trafficking, money laundering, illegal arms trade, economic espionage and on and on.
You name it and they are involved. Now sit back and think that these bottomless barbaric practices are OK. This is what is happening each and every day and these illegalities cost the tax payer billions of dollars not to mention the bodily damage it has on many of us.
When I was a labor leader, the mafia put me on a high pedestal and I was cuddled by many of my relatives’ friends and everyone who surrounded me.
When it was learned that I was secretly working for the FBI, I was deserted and thought as a pariah. My acting solely out of conscience and freely cooperating without a criminal act hanging over my head was met with jeers. I tried to do the right thing for the workers I represented who were members of a union totally dominated by mob control and victimized by ruthless thugs.
I perfectly understand fear and I hold no grudges against those that knew their economic livelihood would be curtailed and their lives put in harms way. This I comprehend and accept.
What I don’t recognize is those so called friends and relatives that turned against me for personal profit and acceptance by the mob. They should be ashamed of themselves for their collaborating with an enemy of the people. Equally corrupt elected officials, a couple of reporters who under the banner of “The Truth is Fair” surrey favor from the mob and or its lackeys by defaming the investigators and its witnesses and heaping platitudes on the investigated.
We see what is happening and how many of us are still suffering from a loss of a job, a home and essentially a way of life. Does anyone believe that mob members and its associates are suffering economically like the rest of us? I did not write my book “The Triangle Exit” for financial reasons. If I wanted money, all I had to do is going along with the mob and I would be very wealthy today. It’s not for the riches and fame but a story of my life and why I chose the path of “peace of mind” and my effort to curtail an evil that has mutated; yet remains ever present and chasing innovative ways to manipulate and make off with your last dollar.