November 22-24, 2013 – On the Trail of the Assassins, Dallas
After driving some eight hours from New Orleans, WMR’s “On the Trail of the Assassins” series of reports finally brings us to Dallas. Some of the Mafia- and CIA-linked gunmen who participated fifty years ago in the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963 took this same route by car, although their trip likely took longer, considering the fact that the Interstate highway system was still in its infancy.
After purchasing their sniper rifles from a gun store in Slidell, Louisiana, the assassins, who had begun their trip in Miami, passed through Tampa where they received cash from mob boss Santo Trafficante, Jr., traveled through New Orleans under the protection and with the support of New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello, and on to Dallas.
According to a former CIA operative who now lives in Houston, on the night of November 21, 1963, the mob snipers, local mob bagman and night club owner Jack Ruby, CIA and FBI informant Lee Harvey Oswald, CIA embedded Dallas “policeman” J. D. Tippit, CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, and a few other conspirators representing the mob and a rogue element of the CIA met at Campisi’s Egyptian restaurant on Mockingbird Lane, 4.2 miles from Dealey Plaza.
Campisi’s was owned by Joe Campisi, who the present-day manager of the restaurant admitted was a close family and business friend of her uncle Joe Campisi. WMR and a few local Dallas JFK assassination specialists gathered on the evening of November 21 at Campisi’s, which has not changed much in fifty years. Joe Campisi’s niece explained how close her uncle was to Carlos Marcello and made a special point of pointing out the round table in the back of the restaurant where she said Jack Ruby dined fifty years ago to the very night. Now sitting under a large portrait of Joe Campisi, the table sits against the back wall of the restaurant, near the kitchen and rear exit. Anyone entering the restaurant through the padded red door would have been immediately seen by Ruby and Joe Campisi, allowing them to either monitor all the activity in the dining room or make a hasty exit out of the back door.
Campisi’s niece explained how Marcello, like all Sicilian crime families, were just trying to make it in the United States amid all the anti-Italian and anti-immigrant pressures of their era. She did not know, or was not willing to say, who joined Ruby at the special “round table” the night of November 21, 1963.
One thing is clear. The gunmen who drove from Tampa through New Orleans to Dallas spent some of their time at fine dining establishments. We previously described their visit to the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City in Tampa where they mere met by Trafficante, who was a silent partner in the restaurant’s operation. While in New Orleans, the assassins met with Marcello. Although it is not known where they ate, the Campisi restauranteurs originated in New Orleans before moving to Dallas and the Marcello and Campisi mob families had connections to some of the finer restaurants in the city. In Dallas, the assassins capped off their mission by eating at Campisi’s, which serves traditional (and very good) Italian fare.
While at Campisi’s, one local area politician described a conversation he once had with Winston Smith [the name is ironic], the son of Jack Ruby’s attorney, Hubert Winston Smith. The younger Smith described how Trafficante had hidden a large cache of gold, made from his various business ventures, including illegal gambling in the United States and legal casinos in Cuba, in a secret underground vault somewhere in Havana. The Tampa-based mob boss moved the gold from Florida to Cuba to keep it from falling into the hands of federal law enforcement who were trying to prosecute Trafficante for racketeering.
After the fall of the Fulgencio Batista regime in Cuba and the coming to power of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, Trafficante continued to keep the location of the gold cache in Havana secret. Wen the CIA began planning the Bay of Pigs invasion by the Cuban exile paramilitary Brigade 2506, Trafficante trained is own special team that would accompany Brigade 2506, not to assist in the overthrow of Castro, but to secure the cache of gold and remove it from Cuba. Trafficante placed in charge of the operation his son, who ended up being one of the 4000 killed or wounded among the ranks of the invaders. The Trafficante gold was never secured and, more astounding, according to the story related by Smith, remains hidden in Havana to this day!
After hearing of his son’s death, Trafficante vowed to kill President Kennedy in retribution. One of the CIA team leaders for Brigade 2506 was E. Howard Hunt, who would figure prominently in the assassination of Kennedy and the Watergate break-in.
Campisi’s Egyptian restaurant on Mockingbird Lane in Dallas. November 21, 1963 saw Jack Ruby, Lee Oswald, J.D. Tippit, and Mafia-hired snipers gather for a final meeting on the eve of the fateful day of the assassination of President Kennedy. Ironically, President Kennedy’s motorcade would pass by Campisi’s on its route from Love Field to Dealey Plaza.
Just as in New Orleans where ex-FBI agent and assassination plotter Guy Banister shared his office building with Fair Play for Cuba Committee FBI informant Lee Oswald, in the shadow of the U.S. Federal Building, the Federal Building annex, which housed the offices of federal law enforcement agencies, had a commanding view of Dealey Plaza and the assassination scene. This photo of the Federal Building across Elm Street is taken from the “Grassy Knoll.”
This spot in front of the Texas School Book Depository, where the editor is standing, is where CIA operative George H W Bush stood while the shots rang out in Dealey Plaza. Bush [right photo, farthest to the left] is looking directly at the location of President Kennedy’s limousine when he was hit by the gunfire.
Spot on Elm Street [around area of the two adjacent orange cones] where the fatal bullet struck President Kennedy in the front right side of his head. Several people gathered on the evening of November 21. The mayor of Dallas closed the area on November 22 to all but 5000 special ticket holders. Radio host Alex Jones led a protest march against the mayor’s decision as an abridgement of constitutional rights. On the evening of November 21, at around 5:30 pm (CST), the editor witnessed Dallas police arrest one man on Commerce Street across from Dealey Plaza. The man, who appeared to be in his twenties, was carrying an automatic rifle.
Bullet hole in windshield of Lincoln Continental limousine. The Warren Commission suspended all laws of universal physics to support the contention that all the bullets fired came from Oswald’s cheap male-order bolt-action rifle from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.
Two reflections on Dealay Plaza. The assassination area — te School Book Depository, the Grassy Knoll, the Dal-Tex building where another sniper’s nest was reportedly located, the railroad overpass, and, to the editor’s surprise, the Dallas Federal Building, are all in close proximity to one another. The spot where Abraham Zapruder took the video of the President being hit was only 165 feet from the limousine. It has often been said that President Kennedy was caught in a “turkey shoot.” In the case of Dealey Plaza, the shooting took place in a virtual cage.