The important role of New Orleans in the early development of the Mafia in the United States has been largely forgotten by our popular culture. This is in part because much of its history remains in dispute (May). Even allegations tying Marcello to the Kennedy assassination (Jones 11ff) have not revived the fame of the New Orleans Mafia, perhaps because it is lost among so many other, contradictory Kennedy-assassination conspiracy theories. Nevertheless, New Orleans played an important part in the history of the American Mafia.
Thus, by 1890 the Mafia was already well-established in New Orleans. In that year, the assassination of the police chief led to a series of trials and acquittals, followed by the jailhouse lynching of a number of Italian immigrants (Jones 3). Some had Mafia ties; others were innocent. Claims that the Mafia had been eradicated by this vigilante action, however, proved unfounded. By the 1920s and 1930s, the Mafia's tentacles extended to the statehouse, with convicted Mafia ringleaders like Carlos Marcello receiving pardons after serving only a small portion of their sentences (Jones 4).