Mexico City – Virginia Hill, a woman sent to Mexico by the Cosa Nostra, infiltrated the highest levels of the Mexican government in the post-war period and turned that country into a large-scale supplier of drugs to the United States, journalist and writer Juan Alberto Cedillo told Efe.
"Mexico became one of the main suppliers of drugs in the 1940s for the consumers of its powerful neighbor to the north and this beautiful woman was the key piece in this adventure," Cedillo said during a discussion of his new book, "La Cosa Nostra en Mexico (1938-1950)," published by Grijalbo Mondadori.
Hill, who was the girlfriend of mobsters Joe Epstein, Frank Nitti, Charles Fischetti, Frank Costello and Joe Adonis, was sent to Mexico by the Cosa Nostra, the most powerful of the Italian-American organized crime groups operating in the United States, to obtain protection for its drug business, Cedillo said.
"Mexico became the main source of drugs (during World War II) due to the fact that the Italian-American mob stopped getting narcotics from Turkey, Yugoslavia and some parts of the Middle East due to the conflict in Europe," Cedillo said.
Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, an envoy of Charlie "Lucky" Luciano and Meyer Lansky, who ran the Cosa Nostra on the west coast of the United States, arrived in Mexico in 1942 with the mission of obtaining large quantities of opium and morphine.
Siegel, according to FBI reports, started crossing the U.S.-Mexico border regularly in early 1942, Cedillo said.
The mobster set up his operations base in Tijuana, a border city in the northwestern Mexican state of Baja California, purchasing a hotel that he used to buy large amounts of narcotics for distribution in various U.S. cities.
Siegel had a partner named Max Cossman, known as the "King of Opium," who bought drugs in Mexico's Sinaloa state from different gangs, like the one led by Rodolfo Valdez, known as "El Gitano" (The Gypsy), the writer said.
Bugsy Siegel was killed in a dispute with other mobsters over his management of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, the writer said.
Siegel's death threatened the drug business he had started and Mafia leaders put Virginia Hill, known as "the Mob Queen," in charge of the operation.
Hill, who had accompanied Siegel on his trips to Mexico, was told to ensure the continued flow of drugs and promote the opening of casinos in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.
She had several lovers in Mexico, including air force pilot Luis Amezcua, who she met in Baja California and later became a top aide to President Miguel Aleman, who governed the country from 1946 to 1952, Cedillo said.
Hill moved to Mexico in June 1948 and lived in mansions in Acapulco and the Federal District, where she had big parties to which many politicians were invited.
Amezcua helped Hill form an organization with Col. Carlos I. Serrano, the leader of the Mexican Senate, and U.S. businessman Alfred Cleveland Blumenthal that smuggled opium and morphine into the United States, Cedillo said.
The organization fell apart at the end of the Aleman administration, the writer said.
Amezcua was murdered in the port city of Tampico, Blumenthal was kicked out of the country, Serrano lost his political power and Hill was murdered many years later in Europe by the mob to silence her, Cedillo said.