In 1905 Joseph Barbara was in born on the island of Sicily. Joining his brother at the age of sixteen and working in a shoe factory, eventually becoming a naturalized citizen in 1927. By the late 1920s he was already a fixture among the Scranton-Wilkes Barre underworld, which consisted of bootlegging, gambling and prostitution. He forged powerful alliances with Angelo Polizzi, Santo Volpe and John Sciandra. Barbara earned his stripes as an organizer for distributing illegal whiskey and beer during Prohibition. This same talent would be used again when he was awarded distribution and manufacturing rights by the Canada Dry beverage company.Joseph Barbara Apalachin Mafia Raid 1957

Barbara was believed to have conspired against Johnny Sciandra in 1940, thereby taking the throne through murder and creating a powerful syndicate. Sometime during the late 1940s or early 1950s, possibly due to law enforcement pressure, Barbara moved to a 42-acre estate located in the small upstate New York town of Apalachin. In November of 1957 Manhattan crime boss Vito Genovese was believed to have called for a coast to coast meeting of La Cosa Nostra bosses. The meeting would attract such far away notables as Frank DeSimone, the recognized leader of the Los Angeles underworld, James Colletti the known crime boss of the Colorado Rockies, Joseph Civello, Carlo Marcello and Santo Trafficante, Jr. all representing the southeast. In addition to representatives of the five crime families of New York, Buffalo and the Chicago Outfit were present. With the exception of Detroit, the remaining twenty five other La Cosa Nostra had traveled for the event and were believed to have discussed several subjects. By the second day the meeting would be raided by local police and the secret criminal brotherhood was exposed.

The common excuse used by most who attended was the premise of Barbara's known heart disease. In fact all who would testify about the whereabouts that day, most would use this as an excuse and very little came from it in regards to prosecution. The same heart disease that was used under oath by so many would eventually catch up to Barbara. He died of a heart attack in June 1959. His underboss Russel Bufalino would now assume control.