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Season 1, Episode 7

New Frontiers

Luciano takes over Vito Genovese's heroin ring in Italy, while Genovese and Gambino plot against mob leadership.

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Full Recap

After 10 years behind bars, Lucky Luciano has finally been freed, but with a catch: He is immediately deported to Italy and forbidden to return to the United States for the rest of his life.

To help re-solidify his place at the top of the mob hierarchy, Luciano seizes what's left of Vito Genovese's heroin smuggling operation in Italy and invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in converting Sicilian candy factories into underground heroin labs.

Bugsy Siegel, still living out in Los Angeles, strikes upon an idea to create a lasting legacy for himself. In the small desert town of Las Vegas, Nevada, where gambling is legal, Siegel's vision is to build a mega hotel and casino that will rival Europe's luxury casinos and attract Hollywood's high rollers. He decides to name his hotel the Flamingo, which is also the nickname of his long-legged girlfriend, Virginia Hill.

Siegel approaches Luciano about investing in his new gambling venture. Though skeptical at first, Luciano pledges to help fund the project.

As Luciano looks to find a way to smuggle his heroin into the United States, he decides to relocate to Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. Havana has become a safe-haven for the mob thanks to Meyer Lansky, who has spent years transforming Cuba into a gambling mecca thanks to payoffs to Cuba's corrupt dictator, Fulgencio Batista. After just seven months in exile, Luciano travels through a maze of countries in South America, Mexico and the Caribbean in order to get to Cuba without the Italian police, or the American consulate, finding out.

Upon his arrival, every mob boss in American convenes in Cuba for a hugely successful meeting that will become known as the Havana Summit, complete with entertainment from none other than Frank Sinatra. At the summit, Luciano unveils a two-part plan: First, expand the mob's heroin trade into a billion dollar business, and second, invest in Siegel's Vegas casino.

As heroin being produced in Sicily begins to be smuggled into the U.S. through the Caribbean, the mob generates an enormous profit, the modern-day equivalent of $7 billion a year. However, one mobster feels he's not getting his fair share: Vito Genovese, who originally set up the heroin trade in Italy, believes he's entitled to more. Genovese meets with Luciano to plead his case, but Luciano refuses to give him a bigger cut, turning his former cohort into an enemy.

After borrowing the equivalent of $60 million from the Five Families, Siegel's Flamingo casino is finally completed. However, on opening night, a huge rainstorm in Las Vegas combined with the fact that the guest rooms are not yet complete results in only a small crowd turning out. After just three weeks, the casino is already losing millions, and Siegel is forced to shut it down.

The Commission quickly grows weary of their failing investment in Siegel's project, but Lansky buys his long-time collaborator more time. Three months later, the hotel is finally completed, and the Flamingo reopens. It's second grand opening is a big success.

Feeling disrespected and humiliated by Luciano, Genovese makes an anonymous call to the FBI and tips them off to Luciano's presence in Cuba. It's not long before Luciano's phone is tapped, and the government becomes aware of his heroin smuggling operation. Bowing to pressure from the U.S. government, in March of 1947, Luciano is deported from Cuba and put on a freighter back to Italy.

Though Siegel's casino is finally making money, none of the bosses who invested are seeing any of the profits. Because Luciano backed Siegel, he knows the Flamingo situation makes him look even weaker. The final straw comes when Frank Costello receives word that Siegel's girlfriend, Virginia Hill, boarded a plane to Switzerland with numerous bags — bags Costello believes are full of the missing money. On June 20, 1947, Bugsy Siegel is shot nine times in Beverly Hills, making him the first member of their childhood gang to die. 20 minutes after Siegel's murder, Lansky's men take control of the Flamingo.

Frustrated by his continuing lack of power within the Mafia, Genovese allies himself Carol Gambino, a mid-level boss in one of the other New York crime families. Together, they wait for an opportunity to make a move.

In May, 1950, the U.S. Senate forms a committee to investigate the American Mafia, and arranges for some of the hearings to be televised. An audience of 30 million watches as mobster after mobster is called to the stand, and one by one, they all plead the 5th. When he's finally called to testify, Frank Costello decides to answer the committee's questions, confident that he can charm and outwit them in the same way that he's handled local politicians over the yard. It's not long before the committee catches Costello contradicting himself, and his testimony quickly turns disastrous.

Costello's blunder provides Genovese and Gambino with the opportunity they've been waiting for. But to overthrow a mob boss, they'll need to form an alliance that could bring all five New York families to war.