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The Enforcer: Johnny Pops Papalia, a Life and Death in the Mafia
By Adrian Humphreys
(HarperCollins; December 2002; trade paperback)
Shortly after lunch on the last day of May in 1997, Johnny Papalia, a man known as Johnny Pops, Canada's Capone, Godfather and the Enforcer, was gunned down outside his office. Before he slumped, dying, to the pavement at the age of 73 — on the same small, working-class street in Hamilton, Canada, where he was born and raised — he was universally feared as one of North America's longest-reigning Mafia bosses.
For close to 40 years, gangsters across Canada bowed to the fearsome will of Johnny Pops, who rose as a Mafia chieftain through a sound upbringing by his Prohibition-era bootlegger of a father, his own deep, criminal ambition and the good graces of Stefano Magaddino, the powerful La Cosa Nostra boss across the border in Buffalo. From there, Papalia built a far-reaching criminal empire through extortion, loan sharking, and gambling — and then expanded his family's interests into heroin when he set up a piece of "The French Connection" with Joe Valachi, who would go on to become the first significant American Mafia turncoat. Johnny Pops' underworld activity took him to swank New York nightclubs with La Cosa Nostra's elite, tours of gambling joints where he controlled the action and ultimately to Riker's Island prison with the world's most notorious criminals. How Johnny Pops Papalia learned his dark trade reaches back into time and place — to his forefathers and the underworld of Italy. His story is one synonymous with the rise of organized crime in Canada.
After becoming a national bestseller and burning through numerous reprints, this trade paperback is a fully revised edition — with important new stories, remarkable new discoveries and updates throughout the text as well as a major new epilogue featuring Humphreys' interviews with Papalia's assassin, who is both a serial killer and a mob hit man. This edition also adds 29 new photographs to the already impressive collection. A true-crime classic in every sense, The Enforcer is an absorbing read for any fan.
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