After the Colombo crime family began shaking down his gasoline business, Balagula asked for a sitdown with Lucchese crime family consigliere Christopher Furnari at Brooklyn's 19th Hole social club. According to Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, who was a Lucchese soldier present at the meeting, Furnari declared,
"Here there's enough for everybody to be happy... to leave the table satisfied. What we must avoid is trouble between us and the other families. I propose to make a deal with the others so there's no bad blood.... Meanwhile, we will send word out that from now on you and your people are with the Lucchese family. No one will bother you. If anyone does bother you, come to us and Anthony will take care of it."
In the aftermath, New York's Five Families imposed a two cent per gallon "Family tax" on Balagula's bootlegging operation, which became their greatest moneymaker after drug trafficking. According to one former associate,
"The LCN reminded Marat of the apparatchiks in the Soviet Union. He thought as long as he gave them something they would be valuable allies. Then all of a sudden he was at risk of being killed if he couldn't pay to the penny.
According to author Philip Carlo,
"Because Gaspipe and Russian mobster Marat Balagula hit it off so well, Casso was soon partners with Balagula on a diamond mine located in Sierra Leone, Africa. They opened a business office in Freetown. Casso also arranged for an Orthodox Jewish friend of his named Simon Stein, a diamond expert and member of the DeBeers Club, to travel from the Forty-seventh Street diamond district to Africa to smuggle -- in the linings and collars of great overcoats and in secret compartments of very expensive leather luggage -- particularly brilliant diamonds back into the country."
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