Lamare, Cesare (1884-1931)

Born Italy, Nov. 7, 1884

Killed Detroit, MI, Feb. 7, 1931.


Cesare "Chester" Lamare led the Detroit Mafia for a brief period in 1930 at the start of the open fighting of the Castellammarese War. He became a casualty in that conflict early in 1931.

Lamare was born in Italy and traveled to the United States as a child in 1897. Lamare involved himself in bootlegging and other rackets in the Italian colonies of Wyandotte and Hamtramck in the Detroit, Michigan, area. Police arrested him often between 1915 and 1921. Lamare was believed to control gambling and narcotics rackets in the area. He was arrested and charged with a bootlegging violation in 1927. He was convicted but let off with a fine.
At about that time, he went to work for the Ford Motor Company, ensuring peace with Italian laborers at the auto plants. He was given control of an automobile dealership and organized produce sellers in the region.

In the late 1920s, Lamare became a strong ally of New York Mafia boss Giuseppe Masseria. Masseria became boss of bosses of the American Mafia by 1928 and urged Lamare to expand his underworld interests into areas controlled by those less loyal to Masseria, including Angelo Meli's Mafia and an affiliated group commanded by Castellammarese Mafioso Gaspar Milazzo.

Lamare ordered the assassination of Milazzo on May 31, 1930, at a Detroit fish market, 2739 Vernor Highway. It appears that he planned to eliminate Meli at the same time and place, but Meli did not appear. Milazzo and his companion Sam Parrino were shot to death by Lamare gunmen. Many believed that Masseria personally approved the murders, and used the incident to rally Mafiosi around the country to a growing anti-Masseria faction.

Lamare proclaimed himself leader of the Sicilian underworld in the area. Meli and his organization did not oppose Lamare at first but quietly worked against him.

Lamare eventually found himself hunted by gangsters and the police. He went into hiding, traveling as far as New York City and Louisville, Kentucky.

In February, he moved into a fortified home on Detroit's Grandville Avenue. Lamare's rivals tracked him down and had him shot him to death in that home just after midnight on Feb. 7, 1931. The assassin was probably someone known and trusted by Lamare, as the gang boss appears to have allowed him into the house.

Police, summoned to the location by Lamare's wife, found the gang leader with a bullet holes in his head. They also found a small arsenal in the place, including six revolvers, a tear gas gun, two rifles, 4,000 rounds of ammunition and some hand grenades.

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