Carmine “Papa Smurf” Franco, a once respected figure in the New Jersey trash-hauling industry, is now in jail after being tied to an alleged racketeering mafia scheme. Franco, along with 31 other members with suspected mafia affiliations, were all arrested yesterday after a major federal probe.
Here’s what you should know about this alleged garbage godfather.
1. Franco is the Suspected Ringleader of a Mafia Garbage Industry Scheme
Franco was taken into custody by the feds alongside 31 other purported “wise guys.” Out of all the individuals were arrested, Franco was reported to be the leader of a scheme that involved the mafia and their ties to the garbage disposal industry. The police crackdown came down on Franco and his associates once the FBI tied them to the Mafia and their control of tri-state trash-carting companies. A New York Department of Justice press release stated the following:
The main Indictment charges 12 defendants under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that asserted illegal and extortionate control over commercial waste-hauling companies, and 17 other defendants with individual acts of extortion, loansharking, and other crimes associated with those activities.
The U.S. District Court and the Southern District of New York released a lengthy indictment document on the case. The document can be read above.
2. He Ran Garbage Disposal Companies that Had Fake Owners
Franco controlled several garbage disposal companies that were allegedly owned by fake, non-existent owners. The Daily News noted that a federal indictment charged Franco for using his lead position as “godfather” to direct local “control and operation of waste hauling businesses.”
3. He Was Once a Respected Member of the Waste Management Industry
Franco spent more than three decades in the garbage business prior to his arrests. However, he once was banned from the business he once worked in due to two prior convictions. These convictions and his reported mob ties led to him being banned in New Jersey. He also lost his license to work in New York.
4. He Once Was Partners with a Lawyer
Former Camden defense attorney Salvatore Avena was a working partner of Franco, due to Franco’s past co-ownership of Philadelphia garbage company AAA Trash. Avena was part of a 1990’s investigation that was built around Philadelphia organized crime.
5. He Has Suspected Ties to the Genovese Crime Family
Franco has been linked to the Genovese organized crime family since the 1980s. The New Jersey State Commission and the defunct Pennsylvania Crime Commission previously filed documents that provide evidence of this, but Franco and his lawyer deny such ties. The Genovese crime family is known as one of the “Five Families” that rule organized crime activity in New York City. A video of the family can be seen above.
6. His Name is Associated with the John Stanfa Mob Investigation
During the investigation into Philadelphia mob boss John Stanfa, Franco’s name was brought up during secretly taped conversations. Salvatore Avena wished to sue Franco because he reasoned that Franco stole money from their trash business. Salvatore Profaci warned Avena not to sue Franco because of his “goodfella” title. Profaci issued this signature phrase to Avena:
Goodfellas don’t sue goodfellas, goodfellas kill goodfellas.
8. His Moniker Was Taken from a Popular Cartoon Character
Franco operated under the name “Papa Smurf” — a nod to “The Smurfs” cartoon series. The famous Belgian comic and TV series centered on a group of small blue fictional people.
9. He’s in His Seventies
Several new sources, including USA Today, reported that Franco is currently 77 years old.