top of page
  • Stephanie Nixon

Porn and The Mafia

The mafia and organized crime groups infiltrated, took over, and domineered much of the porn industry in the US, as a lucrative way of making money. This helped them with expanding their reach, and they often used violence and coercion to get in the industry and take over various porn shops and businesses (Press, 1980). Members of the National Crime Syndicate controlled a part of the child pornography industry, committed extortion and utilized typical mob-like violence to get what they wanted, ad latching onto new business ventures (Ibid; Koziol and O'Brien, 1988).

As well as infiltrating the porn industry, the mafia also got involved in the sex trafficking industry, to pimp out and sell women into prostitution. Both women and children were kidnapped and forced into prostitution and the porn industry (Shannon and Williams, 1997). The mafia's ability to adapt and exploit new, corrupt business ventures enabled them to grow, create more profits, and heighten their criminal careers (Blumenthal and Gage, 1972). Furthermore, this demonstrated how versatile and driven they were to get what they wanted at whatever the cost, and through sheer violence (ibid). The mafia are generally well known for bootlegging, drugs and narcotics trafficking, bribery, corruption, assassinations, gambling, underground black markets, racketeering, extortion, kidnap, torture and money laundering (Koziol and O'Brien, 1988, Shannon and Williams, 1997). In the mid 1980's, 90% of the adult films/pornographic films had been produced in Los Angeles before they all moved to Southern California. It is estimated that the mafia controlled around 85% of that industry, and were taking over adult businesses seeing the porn industry skyrocket (Pure Life Ministries, 2019). The most concerning thing that has been raised from all the investigations done by the FBI in tackling the mafia and pornography, was the lack of outcry and concerns from ordinary American citizens regarding the women and children whom had been exploited and abused (ibid)


The FBI Clamp Down on Illegal Pornography Rackets


By the late 1970's into the early 1980's the clamp down on the illegal pornography industry had begun. The FBI started a number of undercover operations into the rackets, and uncovered a large national network of people who were responsible for an assortment of serious crimes. The investigations became big news as over 54 members of the illegal industry were arrested. The money being made by those involved was into the millions and many lives were being ruined as a result of it. These investigations uncovered not only people involved in adult porn but also child pornography so it was a great priority that they capture and prosecute anyone involved.


There were names linked to the investigation like Kenneth Guarino a Hollywood film producer, who had made explicit content. Content which it was alleged he was attempting to illegally distribute using companies like Golde Coaste Specialties the sting company set up by The FBI. According to court documents Guarino was "convicted of transporting obscene matter in interstate commerce for the purpose of sale, 18 U.S.C. § 1465, and for conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 371." after "a quantity of obscene materials, including books, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, films and prints" were observed being sold from a truck linked to Guarino "copies of these magazines, openly traced to defendants' truck, and openly offered for sale at Combat Zone stores" The court documents clarified this content was being sold by way of sending undercover officers to purchase them. Boston police officers were sent "on various dates between January 17 and February 2, 1978" to make purchases, proving the illegal sales.


Other big organised crime names such as John Gotti and Sammy Gravano had their hands in this illicit pie. Their involvement was later exposed during their court trials, when they were questioned on the hit carried out on Robert DiBernardo. During the Gotti trial the FBI surveillance tapes were played in court, in them Gotti can be heard making a damaging admission. While talking to Frank Locascio about the missing Gambino Family member, Robert DiBernardo, someone who dealt with the families pornography racket says, "I was in jail when I whacked him. I knew why it was being done. I done it anyway." - John Gotti


DiBernardo was killed by Sammy Gravano after it was ordered by Gotti. His hit was allegedly over rumours that he disagreed with Gotti and had spoken badly about him behind his back. At the time Robert was making a lot of money from the porn racket there had been talks of Gotti taking it over to pocket more cash, but Robert was resistant to this idea, which seemingly got him killed.


Below is an article clipping from The Evening Bulletin, Providence, Rhode Island, February 22, 1980 detailing one of the undercover operations carried out by the FBI into the pornography racket.

The inside story of FBI pornography sting

By Karen Ellsworth

"PROVIDENCE - In August 1977, Patrick J. Livingston and Bruce E. Ellavsky rented an office and warehouse in Miami, Fla, and opened a firm called Golde Coaste Specialities, Inc.

The firm was a mail order pornography business. During the next 2 ½ years, through and ever-widening chain of business contacts, the two men met more than 40 people throughout the country. In time they visited their homes and bought films and magazines from them.

Among the 40 were some of the top names in pornography and bootleg Hollywood film business, people who had made millions of dollars and were connected with powerful organized crime families.


It didn't take long for the tow men to become experts in mail-order pornography and pirated movies.

Ellavsky and Livingston quit the business this month, and the peop0le who sold them magazines, films and video cassettes were pretty upset when they found out why.

Ellavsky and Livingston were undercover FBI agents. And Golde Coaste Specialities was the front for an FBI 'sting' operation that resulted in more than 50 indictments by Florida federal grand jury last week.

And one of the people they allegedly met with and bought films and magazines from was Kenneth F. Guarino of Johnston.


THE PORNO STING, similar to other operations which have become a favorite FBI investigation tactic, was sketched out in a 24-page affidavit filed in U.S. District Court last week by Providence FBI office.

The affidavit, filed in order to seek federal search warrants for Guarino's office and warehouse in North Providence, became public this week when the FBI formally returned inventories of the material agents seized int he raids.

The operation, dubbed "MIPORN" by the agency, involved several contacts between undercover agents and Guarino, according to the affidavit.

On Nov, 3, 1977, three months after Golde Coaste went into business, Livingston and Ellavsky came to Providence checked into a hotel, and called Guarino's Imperial Distributors office on Laurel Hill Avenue in Providence.

Guarino sent "Butch" Anthony J. DiBona, a Johnson man also indicted by the Florida grand jury, to the hotel to pick up the agents and drive them to Guarinos office, according to the affidavit.

Guarino told them he was "interested in shipping obscene films and magazines" to Golde Coaste. He bought the men into a room filled with 8-millimeter films, and arranged to send them several films and magazines.


The next day the agents met with Butch at a local restaurant and closed the deal, paying for the films with a check. Butch told the agents Guarino would call."



Newspaper clipping taken from FBI files outlining the FBI porn sting dated 1980
Newspaper clipping taken from FBI files


References

Press, R.M. (1980) 'FBI's Big Pornography Crackdown Reveals Organised Crime Influence' Available online at: https://www.csmonitor.com/1980/0219/021972.html

Koziol, R and O'Brien, J (1988) 'Tapes Detail Life Inside Mob's Porn World' Available online at: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1988-09-19-8801310424-story.html


Shannon, S and Williams, P (1997) Prostitution and the Mafia: 'The Involvement of Organized Crime in the Global Sex Trade' US Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs Vol.3 (4) Available online at: https://www.ojp.gov/library/abstracts/prostitution-and-mafia-involvement-organized-crime-global-sex-trade pp.119-144


Blumenthal and Gage (1972) 'Crime 'Families' Taking Control of the Porn Pornography' Available online at: https://www.nytimes.com/1972/12/10/archives/crime-families-taking-control-of-pornography-law-aides-say-they.html

Pure Life Ministries (2019) 'The FBI's Secret Battle with the Mafia over Pornography' Available online at: https://www.purelifeministries.org/blog/the-fbis-secret-battle-with-the-mafia-over-pornography

Other sources

Jacobs, J.B. (2019) 'The Rise and Fall of Organized Crime in the United States' University of Chicago Press Journals. Crime and Justice. Vol.49. Available online at: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/706895


The Mob Museum (2021) 'When the Mafia Ruled Times Square' Available online at: https://themobmuseum.org/blog/mafia-ruled-times-square/


Fight The New Drug (2017) 'The Porn Industry's Dark Secrets' Available online at: https://fightthenewdrug.org/the-porn-industrys-dark-secrets/?gclid=CjwKCAiAmrOBBhA0EiwArn3mfLCRYH_JfEDJ2BhJTo_JRIJRdzGbguU27zEenrW89zUq4NUXl-5kdhoCjPgQAvD_BwE


United States of America, Appellee, v. Kenneth Guarino,* Defendant, Appellant, 729 F.2d 864 (1st Cir. 1984) - https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/729/864/313811/


Gotti. John, (1992) The Gotti Tapes. Times Books, New York. ISBN: 100812921119


10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page