• At the moment two bodies have been found in Lake Mead, one of them inside a barrel, but it is not ruled out that more may emerge

  • Some sources link what happened with the practices of the mafia

It is often said that what happens in vegas stays in vegas. It is a slogan that was not bad for organized crime, a fundamental element in the history, operation and folklore of the ‘city of sin’. But the mafia always knew they had to have a rival as colossal or more than the biggest snitch: the climate emergency. And the worsening of that crisis by leaps and bounds has proved them right.

A brutal drought is hitting the western United States. It has led the authorities to resort to draw water from the depths of Lake Mead, a reservoir behind the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, half an hour from Vegas. With the descent of the water, which has fallen over 52 meters since 1983they have begun to float human remains. And although the authorities have not yet made the connection officially, it has been impossible to prevent many from coming to mind with images of mobsters disposing of corpses that cinema and literature have made part of the popular heritage.

In fact, even Ray Spencer, a Vegas police lieutenant, has told local television KLAS-TV that “there’s a good chance that, as the water level continues to drop, let’s go find more human remains”.

A shot and a barrel

The first body was located last week. Was in a rusty barrel that people in boats saw stuck in the mud on the new shoreline of the lake exposed by the receding water. Police determined that the man inside had been shot dead. Personal items found inside the barrel and the shoes the body was wearing suggest the victim was killed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The deceased is now being identified and his death is being investigated as a homicide.

Days later a local television crew found a second barrel, which was empty. But on Saturday came the discovery of a second body. A pair of sisters paddle surfing in an area of ​​the lake popular for water sports spotted some bones and initially they thought it was the remains of a ram of the rocky ones, typical of the area. Seeing the jaw with teeth, they realized that they were not looking at the carcass of an animal but rather human remains and they notified the park rangers. This second case, in which the remains are also being analyzed and identification attempted, is not being investigated as a homicide.

The ideal place to dispose of a dead body

What few seem to have doubts about is that these two corpses may well not be the only ones come to the surface. Oscar Goodman, a three-term mayor of Las Vegas and also a lawyer who represented mob figures like Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro, has told the Associated Press that it’s impossible to guess what else the lake will reveal, but he has also remembered that “it is not a bad place to dump a corpse & rdquor ;. Likewise, Goodman has assured that many of his former clients seemed interested in “climate control & rdquor ;, which in mafia jargon referred to keep water levels high and the bodies far below in their underwater graves.

Michael Green, a history professor at the University of Nevada, has also told the AP that “if the (level) of the lake goes down much more, it is very possible that very interesting things will come to the surface & rdquor; and he has said that “I would bet that there will be several more corpses”. And Geoff Schumacher, vice president of the Mafia Museum in Las Vegas, has agreed with him. “Many of these individuals will likely have been drowning victims but one barrel has the signature of a mob hit& rdquor ;, he explained to the agency.

Both Green and Schumacher have recalled the case of John “Handsome Johnny” Roselli, who was a prominent figure in organized crime in Vegas in the 1950s, disappeared in 1976, and whose body was found a few days later floating off the coast of Miami, Florida. , in a steel barrel with a capacity of 208 liters.

The professor, in any case, has also recalled that “it should be remembered that the mob didn’t like that there were murders in Vegas because they did not like that bad publicity was linked to the city & rdquor ;. And other experts like former police officer David Kohlmeier, who has a podcast and a TV show, say there may be remains in Lake Mead that are not linked to the mob. He, for example, has been contacted by relatives of people whose disappearances are not linked to organized crime. He specifically has spoken of a man who is suspected of killing his mother and his brother in 1987, a father from Utah who disappeared in the 1980s or a hotel employee who also disappeared in 1992.

brutal drought

Beyond colorism, the case of the corpses has served to focus attention on the devastating consequences of climate change and the intensification of adverse effects such as increasingly brutal droughts. Lake Mead, along with Lake Powell, is part of a system that supplies water to about 40 million people in cities, farms, tribes and industries in seven states in the southwestern United States and is already at only 30% of its capacity.

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That lake is especially vital to Las Vegas and southern Nevada. With 2.5 million inhabitants and 40 million tourist visits a year, 90% of the water that is drunk there comes from the Mead. And now it is a scarce commodity, so much so that in the city, for example, it is being forced by law to remove planted grass to make “non-functional” gardens & rdquor; and merely aesthetic, which must be watered, and it is being forced to replace it with landscaping more in keeping with the desert.

Also in neighboring California the drought is raging. It was recently announced that several counties in Los Angeles and its metropolitan area will see supply as low as 1% reduced. With the goal of cut water consumption by 35%Angelenos will only be able to water their gardens two days a week, and only eight to 15 minutes. In other areas the restriction is even more intense and it will only be possible to irrigate one day.


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