A History of Florida’s Mobsters, Hit Men, and Wise Guys

Doug Kelly

Clearwater resident

Publication Date: March 5, 2024

Paper List Price: $28.00

Inside accounts and little-known stories of criminal networks in Florida’s past 

A vivid, wild ride through a century of Mafia lore, this book tells stories of organized crime rings that have settled in Florida and made the state their base of operations for bootlegging, gambling, extortion, money laundering, and drug running. Sunshine State Mafia divulges the hidden history of the mob from the Keys to Pensacola and Jacksonville.

Featuring Al Capone and crime rings in Miami and South Florida, the Trafficante family in Tampa, Harlan Blackburn and his gambling empire in Orlando, and many more individuals both infamous and little known, this book explains how and why mob bosses from northern states came to Florida in the early 1900s—they saw the state as a respite from cold weather and a good place to evade law enforcement. The cast of characters in these stories includes cops, sheriffs, prosecutors, judges, and politicians who took bribes or even conspired with criminals.

Doug Kelly offers never-before-told information from newly released files, interviews with retired police and FBI agents, and his own career as a security consultant during the Cocaine Cowboys era. Kelly’s line of work involved brushes with criminal elements and notorious characters, which he recounts here. He also defines roles within Mafia families, discusses how changes in policing have impacted the patterns of criminal organizations, and talks about what distinguishes the Mafia from other groups.

The first book to survey the origins and activities of the Mafia across Florida, Sunshine State Mafia will surprise readers with its insights into the influence of organized crime in the history of the state’s small towns and cities.

Doug Kelly is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a licensed private investigator and security consultant. He is the author of Dirty Trickster, Corporate Spy: A Watergate Saboteur Switches from Disrupting Campaigns to Spying on EmployeesAlaska’s Greatest Outdoor Legends: Colorful Characters Who Built the Fishing and Hunting Industries; and Florida’s Fishing Legends and Pioneers.

“Kelly gives a broad view of organized crime in Florida, interspersed with his own personal anecdotes, highlighting the unique and often crazier-than-fiction story of organized crime in the Sunshine State.”—Scott M. Deitche, author of Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld 

“A fascinating and fresh look at infamous gangsters and criminals who lived and operated throughout Florida. Kelly’s varied business ventures and hobbies often landed him directly among the characters depicted throughout the book, and while some readers may find many of the names familiar, it’s Kelly’s engrossing firsthand accounts that set this book apart from others.”—Avi Bash, author of Organized Crime in Miami


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I’m excited to share the adventures, places and people of Clearwater with you!


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