Gangland Wire brings to light the Kansas Mob and their links to Chicago gangsters and Las Vegas casinos. Retired Kansas City detective Gary Jenkins, our guest tonight, was assigned to this investigation from 1978-1980 and discovered the “Strawman” audio tapes that lay out out how the Cosa Nostra lost control of Las Vegas. Now a documentary filmmaker, Jenkins was our guest for his earlier film, Negroes To Hire: Slave Life and Culture on Antebellum Missouri Farms and also Freedom Seekers: Stories From the Western Underground Railroad. Now he brings us a more contemporary story of criminal activity.
Using the tapes, archival material, and interviews with principals, Jenkins takes us from the gentrification of Kansas City’s River Quay District to the attempted murder of Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal (on whose life Robert De Niro’s character in Casino was allegedly based) and through the discovery of a treasure trove of money and notes that exposed Mafia influence over the Teamsters International Union and Las Vegas casinos–all spawned from a fight over parking rights at the River Quay development.
Teamsters, artists, nightclub owners, criminals, and law enforcement all play a part in this documentary which shows how the Mob infiltrated many levels of our society and how their influence was curtailed, a fascinating look at modern American history.