The Ganja Godfather: The Untold Story of NYC's Weed Kingpin

The Ganja Godfather: The Untold Story of NYC's Weed Kingpin

by Toby Rogers


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The Ganja Godfather: The Untold Story of NYC's Weed Kingpin by Toby Rogers

Genovese mob-scion Silvio Eboli lived within the shadows of history, and now for the first time, the untold story of a mafia legend is revealed. The Ganja Godfather is the story about an ongoing organized criminal operation, in real time with firsthand accounts and experiences by award-winning author and investigative journalist, Toby Rogers. Shadowing the Ganja Godfather, Rogers witnesses it all standing next to the Boss himself: violence, drugs, celebrities, girls, construction hustles, crime-family business meetings and social gatherings. From strip clubs in Atlantic City to Sunday night dinner with the wife and kids, Rogers experiences whatever the Ganja Godfather does on any given day. As exhilarating as Silvio’s life had become, it certainly was much more stressful behind the scenes. Being the Empire State’s spliff king was undoubtedly the hardest job in New York. And it was only after Silvio finally got to the top of the mountain that he realized just how easy it was to fall over the edge. With a wife and kids, dysfunctional family business obligations, and an out-of-control social life all pulling him in conflicting paths, Silvio struggled keep the empire moving forward without detection from law enforcement. But when he was introduced to a Colombian cocaine princess with aspirations to become a model, he saw an opportunity to expand the family’s profit margins to unimaginable heights and risked it all despite the collision course with disaster he saw right before him.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781937584955
Publisher: Trine Day
Publication date: 03/23/2015
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Toby Rogers is an award-winning author and investigative journalist. He is the author of Ambushed: Secrets of the Bush Family, the Stolen Presidency, 9-11, and 2004 and has written for the New York Times, the New York Post, the Village Voice, High Times, Clamor Magazine, and Houston’s Public News. Additionally he has also been featured on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. He lives in Brooklyn.

Read an Excerpt

The Ganja Godfather

The Untold Story of NYC's Weed Kingpin

By Toby Rogers

Trine Day LLC

Copyright © 2015 Tobin Rogers
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-937584-96-2


The Offer I Couldn't Refuse

Crime pays!

– Silvio Eboli

"Yo Kunta, break this up," Silvio said to me with a thick, New York Italian accent. He handed me a few nugs of Sour Diesel, turned around and continued to talk shop with a well known musician and producer from Brooklyn. His friend had cabbed over to Silvio's Lower East Side recording studio to grab a few "zips"before going out on tour.

It was early fall, 2009. It had been years since I last saw Silvio, but it was like a day had not gone by since we last spoke.

We grew up together and had been friends for over 25 years, yet tonight he asked me to meet to "talk business."

Silvio was playing a track, a song about Evel Knievel, from his latest recording session. The last line of the chorus of Ride Evel Ride, was "ride Evel ride, ride up to the sky."

"What sparked you to write about Evel ..." I had begun to ask before Silvio interrupted.

"Shut up," Silvio said while waving his arm at me in annoyance for interrupting the listening session.

Things had slightly changed since I last saw Silvio. The price and the quality of weed he sold had gone up. His customer base was more upscale and included a handful of well-known celebrities. Sour Diesel, flown in from California, went for $30 a gram, but the minimum order was three, two gram "tickets," totaling $180. His clients usually bought more than six grams per delivery, zips — or ounces — being the most popular weight of choice for the rich and famous.

Between 2001 and 2004, Silvio had bought pot in bulk from Native Americans in canoes on the St. Lawrence River between the New York and Canadian border. When that connection evaporated in 2005, he began FedExing pot from northern California to New York.

Silvio also now carried himself — clothes, body language and all — like a B-movie Mafia don.

"That's that best you can fucking do? I said break that shit up!"

After a fat spliff, we went back to the sound booth. Hanging on the back red brick wall was an Italian flag and a small portrait of Pope John Paul II — his official 1978 papal shot. In some Italian mob circles, images of Pope John Paul II are believed to offer good luck to their owner.

Silvio opened up a bass drum case filled with "tickets" along with dozens of zips and "QP's" (quarter pound) bagged and ready for sale. The intense high of the Diesel was just as overwhelming as the smell of the bagged, green and purple plants.

"You hungry?" Silvio asked me, after his last sale of the evening.


We took a cab to the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Resturant. Silvio ordered two appetizers, a plate Oysters Rockefeller and a plate of Florida Stone Crabs, as well as a bottle of red wine and two shellfish platters, both with whole lobsters.

Silvio talked a lot about the past at the Oyster Bar that night, about growing up in Scarsdale together, and an upcoming high school anniversary he was on the fence about attending.

After we finished eating, he ordered even more food.

"Let's get down to brass tacks," Silvio said, after a couple shots of whiskey, a few beers and two more dozen raw oysters.

Silvio explained that Mark Jacobs from New York Magazine had approached him about a doing a feature on his life, only later to publish a long rambling exposition about weed in New York, briefly mentioning him as "Francis."

Disappointed with what was ultimately published, Silvio wanted to "reboot" the story and tell it his way.

This time, he wanted a writer he could totally trust.

"That's where you come in," Silvio told me.

I was taken aback.

Through the piles of empty seafood shells, I looked across the table. He was not just an old friend anymore. He was Silvio Eboli, grandson of some of New York's most notorious mobsters — the Genovese crime family, still carrying the torch of the "old ways" on the streets of New York in an ongoing criminal drug operation. He was asking me to be his personal biographer.

The out of the blue phone call. The meeting with a music legend. The long and elaborate dinner.

Now it all made sense.

I stalled.

"I have to think about it. I don't want to wind up in a ..."

"Tell you what," Silvio interrupted. He stood up, put on his leather overcoat and left me a white envelope on the table under the bill. "Think it over," Silvio said and left for his train.

When I got home, I counted the cash, a stack of hundred dollar bills. It was a ridiculous amount of money.

I met Silvio the next evening at S.P.Q.R., the priciest "ristorante" in Little Italy. This time he was surrounded by four gorgeous women, dates for the night. There was a Russian girl, a Swede, a Japanese girl and a Brazilian, elegantly dressed in evening gowns.

I looked at Silvio, and asked if its was "okay to ..."

"None of these girls speak a word of English," Silvio informed me.

Through a phalanx of red wine bottles, lobster Alfredo and anti-pasta plates, I told him it was a go.

"Where do you want to begin?" I asked.

"My family history would be a good start, don't you think?"

"That's an excellent segue Sil," I responded.

Silvio was shook. My tone telegraphed one thing. Envelopes of cash aside, I was not going to be his personal propaganda minister.

"I watched a bunch of Mafia and Genovese documentaries last night on YouTube, A&E, History Chanel, all the John Gotti ones too. None of them mention Tommy or Pasquale Eboli."

"Do you know why?" Silvo asked.


"Because Tommy and Patsy never got caught. There is no state propaganda lesson in their story, no Uncle Sam throwing them behind bars. Fuck, they ran circles around Uncle Sam and the FBI. The Feds knew they were Mafia, but they couldn't take them down," Silvo said. "Tommy got whacked but Patsy walked. They had nothing on my grandfather, and his story goes totally against the grain of every other mobster in American history."

"How so?" I asked.

"Patsy proved crime pays. And that's why he was stripped out of history. He doesn't fit the mold Uncle Sam wants for their mobsters. Patsy is the real deal, a mobster's mobster. And anyone in this business knows Patsy was the only motherfucker in U.S. Mafia history that won in the end."

"Patsy is the only one," Silvio reiterated one more time.

"What about you?" I joked.

Silvio ignored me and cut into his rare "filetto alla griglia."

As Silvio cut his steak, blood spilled on to his white, porcelain plate.

Parked outside, we all got in a limousine Silvio rented for the night. Inside the Russian girl opened a bottle of champagne. Glasses were filled and we toasted and drank. Silvio handed a pouch to the Brazilian girl. She rolled a blunt and lit up.

We pulled up to the rooftop nightclub, 230 Fifth and walked in. Silvio put his arms around the girls as they were guided to their cabana by a hostess, who he handed a hundred dollar bill after we were seated. I looked around the over the top club and its views of Manhattan's skyline, and saw Rihanna walking by. Derek Jeter was there too, standing off to the side talking to a stunningly beautiful young woman.

A bottle of Gray Goose and Cristal soon arrived at the table. After a few shots, I began to think.

What the fuck have I gotten myself into?

While the music thumped and the girls all swirled around him, Silvio looked empty. The id inside Silvio had become insatiable since we last spoke years ago, and no amount of money, drugs or pussy was going to make him feel whole again. He had reached the mountain top and had it all and then some, but it was nothing more than a pile of quicksand, slowly devouring his soul in the process.

Silvio's eyes were cold and reptilian as he looked around Manhattan's elite inner circle. He was on top of the world, yet he was in total darkness and their was no way out.


Cristo Si è Fermato a Eboli

There is no such thing as good money or bad money. There's just money.

— Charles "Lucky" Luciano

The Eboli family name derives from a small farming commune in Southern Italy, known for their olive oil and buffalo mozzarella cheese. The town of Eboli is also known for it's gripping poverty. The town's unofficial motto: Cristo si è fermato a Eboli ('Christ stopped at Eboli'), which also is the title of the book by anti-fascist artist/writer Dr. Carlo Levi about life in Eboli through forced exile after Benito Mussolini took over Italy.

Levi explained the meaning:

The title of the book comes from an expression, "Christ stopped short of here, at Eboli," which means, in effect, that they feel they have been bypassed by Christianity, by morality, by history itself — that they have somehow been excluded from the full human experience.

Tommaso Eboli was born June 13, 1911 in Scisciano (in the province of Naples), Italy. He was born to Louis Eboli and Madalena Maddalone. Madalena died when Tommaso was young and in the old Italian tradition, Madalena's younger sister Gianna took over as Tommy's mother. Louis married Gianna and moved his family to New York City.

On August 10, 1924, Tommaso's younger brother Pasquale Eboli was born in Queens, NY.

Together, despite the age gap — the two Eboli brothers ran through the streets of New York City, and quickly got tenderized in its ways. By the time the Eboli brothers grew into adulthood, "Costa Nostra" had already been well established in New York and branched well beyond the city limits.

The American Mafia grew out the New York City gang culture of the mid-19th Century, when the Irish-Catholic Dead Rabbits and Plug Uglies roamed the streets of the Lower East Side and the "Five Points" of Paradise Square. For decades they battled for turf with the "Bowery Boys," Protestant American-born "Natives," who were born in America, and who's kin fought and died in the American Revolution.

The immigrants of downtown Manhattan were terrorized by the Bowery Boys and their own gang culture paralleled the abuse they were subjected to. Immigrants like the legendary Dead Rabbit, "Hell Cat Maggie" ambushed the Bowery Boys in alleyways and saloons with her razor-sharp brass fingernails, avenging "Native" oppression in her community. Throughout the 1840s and '50s immigrants gangs valiantly fought off the native gangs in the streets, that at times shut down several city blocks for days.

When the Civil War came to a close in 1865, Manhattan was still recovering from the vicious draft riots from 1863 that virtually destroyed much of the city. Yet, immigrants still poured into Manhattan from all over and the gang culture on the streets reflected the diversity of nationalities that populated downtown .

Jewish gangs, like the "Yiddish Black Hand" and the "Coin Collectors" and the infamous Italian/Sicilian Five Points Gang emerged on the scene in New York. They too — like everyone else in the city — had to claw and scratch in the streets to make any headway for their people.

The Five Points Gang got its name from "Paradise Square" where five streets in the city met: Mulberry, Anthony (now Worth), Cross (now Park), Orange (now Baxter), and Water (extinct). Five Points was founded by Sicilian, Paolo Antonio Vaccarelli, who went by "Paul Kelly." Kelly was also a professional boxer and used his fight earnings to start up brothels and clubs all around the city.

Kelly, who was fluent in English, Italian, Spanish and French, hired Johnny Torrio to be his second in command. Kelly later recruited Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone and Salvatore Lucania, aka Charles "Lucky" Luciano into Five Points and worked closely with Meyer Suchowljansky, aka "Meyer Lansky" and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel.

Through Kelly and these five New York City streets kids, the modern American Mafia was born.

Luciano, born on November 24, 1897 in Lercara Friddi, Sicily, moved with his family to Manhattan's Lower East Side when he was ten.

Luciano sold hats on the streets of New York for $7 a week, until one day he quit to become a full time street hustler after winning $244 with dice. It is rumored that Luciano got his nickname "Lucky" after he was subjected to a serious beat down in his youth by much older adults that should have killed him.

In October, 1929, he took another beating, this time his throat was slashed and he was left for dead in Staten Island. Luciano became a neighborhood legend on the Lower East Side, when the local papers drummed up the story, particularly the fact that Luciano refused to report his attackers to authorities. Luciano later told the Eboli brothers in 1953 that it was the New York Police Department, who almost beat him to death.

Luciano recruited Vito Genovese and Frank Costello into Five Points and together they moved into bootlegging liquor.

During prohibition, the U.S. Government inadvertently created vast sums of wealth for criminal organizations that were able to import liquor — mainly from Scotland, Canada or the Caribbean — into America. By 1925, Luciano, at age 28, was raking in $12 million a year, some of which went to bribing law enforcement and politicians in New York.

Tommaso Ebloi idolized Luciano and Kelly, and as teenager began bootlegging booze for Luciano in the early 1920's. Tommy followed in Kelly's footsteps and became a prizefighter in the early 1930's. He called himself "Tommy Ryan," after a popular neighborhood fighter who had retired.

Luciano and Genovese met Tommy after a fight, and he was immediately hired as Genovese's bodyguard and hit-man. Luciano was under boss for Giuseppe "Joe The Boss" Masseria, who in the 1920's was the Mafia kingpin of New York.

Meanwhile, Sicilian boss Don Vito Ferro, who controlled the Sicilian city of Castellammare del Golfo, wanted to take over New York and its bootlegging operations. He brought in Salvatore Maranzano to muscle everyone else out. Maranzano hired Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno, Stefano "The Undertaker" Magaddino, Joseph Profaci, and Joe Aiello to wipe out Masseria and his crew.

Masseria had Luciano, Genovese , Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia, Alfred Mineo, Willie Moretti, Joe Adonis, Frank Costello and Tommy Eboli in his crew.

What started out with a few liquor truck robberies, escalated fast into a total mob bloodbath. It was a turf war of epic proportions.

It was also a generational war. Maranazo and his crew were called the "Moustache Petes" for their backwards, rural Sicilian ways and long, old fashioned mustaches. Masseria, Genovese and Tommy were dubbed the "Young Turks" for wearing pin striped suits, fedora hats and a willingness to work with nationalities besides their own.

Killings popped off back and forth until Luciano came up with plan to end the war. He sided with Maranazo and agreed to whack Masseria in turn for becoming Maranazo's underboss.

On April 15, 1931, Luciano had dinner with Masseria at Nuova Villa Tammaro, a Brooklyn restaurant at Coney Island. Sitting a few tables away was Anastasia, Genovese, Tommy Eboli, Joe Adonis, and Siegel. When Luciano went to use the restroom, his hit squad opened fire on Masseria. Tables tipped, silverware clinked as people running in terror poured out of the restaurant front door.

Witnesses said that Tommy, wearing a pinstriped suit, fedora, and five o'clock shadow opened fire on Masseria with a Thompson-21 — a 45-caliber sub machine gun — that he pulled out of a violin case. As he fired Tommy puffed on a fat cigar to mask his face. He sprayed whole joint with bullets leaving the walls and the ceiling riddled with holes.

A few years back, Capone had bought a truck load of Thompson-21s — with the round "Type C" drum magazine — at wholesale and sold them to everyone he could. It was known on the street as the "Tommy Gun" and later the "Chicago Typewriter," and eventually all of Hollywood's gangsters and criminals used the gun in films.

Ciro "The Artichoke King" Terranova was waiting for everyone outside in the getaway car, but when he heard all of Tommy's shots, he started to tremble with fear. As everyone piled in, the Artichoke King choked, and Siegel had to push him over and drive off.

The New York Times reported that "the police have been unable to learn definitely [what happened]."

With Masseria out of the way, Maranzano took over the city. Maranzao split up the New York Costra Nostra into five "families." He declared himself — capo di tutti capi or "boss of all bosses" and ran the families in the traditional power structure that originated on the lemon farms of Sicily in the mid-19th Century.

Maranzano was victorious in New York, but his reign as Boss was short lived. Luciano was still plotting to rub out Maranzano as Maranzano was looking to do the same to Luciano.

On September 10, 1931, Maranzano requested that Luciano meet him at his Park Avenue office. Luciano brought along his "Jew Crew" of Sigiel, Samuel "Red" Levine and Bo Weinberg. They showed up early and caught Maranzano off guard.

After they stabbed Maranzano, Luciano took the throne of "Mafia King" of New York. He quickly ordered hits on every "Moustache Pete" in the city. Tommy Eboli was right in the middle of it all as the streets filled with Sicilian blood.


Excerpted from The Ganja Godfather by Toby Rogers. Copyright © 2015 Tobin Rogers. Excerpted by permission of Trine Day LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title page,
Copyright page,
No Sympathy For The Devil: Toby Rogers, Journalism and The Mafia,
Dinner With The Eboli Family: Costa Nostra, History and the Oral Tradition,
The Offer I Couldn't Refuse,
Cristo Si è Fermato a Eboli,
Blood Cries For Blood,
Pass The Dutchie,
The Rise of The Ganja Godfather,
Ghosts of Swan Lake,
Back cover,

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