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Prohibition Gangsters

Woodrow Wilson

Prohibition Gangsters: Woodrow Wilson was the 28th American President who served in office from March 4, 1913 to March 4, 1921. One of the important events during his presidency was the rise of the Prohibition Gangsters and organized crime.

Definition and Summary of the Prohibition Gangsters
Summary and definition:
The Prohibition Gangsters were mobsters and 'bootleggers' who profited from the illegal sale of liquor during the Prohibition Era (1920 to 1933). Until 1920 Mobsters and the Mafia had mainly limited their activities to prostitution, extortion, gambling, and theft. Prohibition provided Gangsters with the opportunity to extend their activities in the illegal, and highly lucrative crime of 'bootlegging'.

The Prohibition gangsters dominated various cities and the huge profits associated with illegal liquor resulted in the rise of organized crime and the introduction of the 'Speakeasy'. Prohibition Gangsters built vast illegal empires that operated through violence, bribery and corruption. The most notorious of the Prohibition gangsters was Al Capone. Gang warfare was rife and the hostility between gang leaders Al Capone and George “Bugs” Moran led to the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929.

Prohibition Gangsters Facts: Fast Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the Prohibition Gangsters.

Who the Prohibition Gangsters? The Prohibition Gangsters were violent mobsters who extended their illegal activities in the 1920's through the sale of intoxicating liquor.

What items were the Prohibition Gangsters associated with? The violent Prohibition Gangsters favored the Thompson submachine gun, or the "Tommy Gun" as their weapon of choice. The profits from organized crime led to a lavish lifestyle of Prohibition Gangsters with expensive silk suits, automobiles and diamond jewelry.

Where was the names of Prohibition Gangsters? The names of famous Prohibition Gangsters included Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Al "Scarface" Capone, George “Bugs” Moran, Dutch Schultz and Jack "Legs" Diamond, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, Vince Mangano, Frank Scalice and Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia.

Facts about Prohibition Gangsters
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Prohibition Gangsters.

The American branch of the mafia is called "La Costra Nostra" (LCN)

Many of the Crime bosses and Prohibition Gangsters bought legal immunity by administering bribes to police, government agents and politicians

Wealthy Prohibition Gangsters favored expensive status symbol automobiles such as Cadillacs, Packards, Chryslers, Duesenbersgs and Rolls-Royce cars

Customized cars with armor and devices such as false floors and smokescreens were made for mobsters by crooked auto dealers such as Joe Bergl and Clarence Lieder.

Clothes worn by mobsters and Prohibition Gangsters included Trilby Hats (Fedora), well-tailored pinstriped suit, Silk shirts and handkerchiefs, Suspenders, Gun Holster, Spats, Black patent leather Wing Tipped Shoes and a Gun Holster

Woman who associated with an American Prohibition Gangster of the 1920s and 1930s were called gangster molls or gun molls. An Italian American mafioso moll were referred to as a comare (Italian for "godmother")

Gangsters Molls wore Fringed Beaded Flapper dresses, short skirts with a hemline above the knee and wore their hair cut as a bob. Accessories included Charleston pearl beads, cigarette holders, and feather headbands and feather boas. Silk or rayon stockings were held up by garters.

Weapons: Prohibition Gangsters and Mobsters used knives, razors and guns. Their weapons included bombs, machine-guns and the pineapple, the gangster adaptation of the WW1 hand grenade. Threats of being 'taken for a ride' were made who did not agree to the demands of mobsters.

Labor racketeering: Labor racketeering involved the infiltration of gangsters into legitimate business, commonly workers' unions, from which Prohibition Gangsters gained power over politicians.

Territorial disputes between the gangs often transformed America’s cities into violent battlegrounds

Mobster slang: An informer was called a stool pigeon or rat. A Machine gun was called a typewriter, tommy or grind organ. A Lawyer was called a Mouthpiece, mouth, lip or front.

Members of the largely Italian-Jewish National Crime Syndicate included Johnny "The Fox" Torrio, Lucky Luciano, Al "Scarface" Capone, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Frank Costello, Joe Adonis, Dutch Schultz, Abner "Longy" Zwillman, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, Vince "The Executioner" Mangano, Frank Scalice and Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia.

The National Crime Syndicate was the name given by the newspapers to a an organized crime syndicate established at a meeting to coordinate the activities of bootleggers. It later became known as Murder, Inc.

The Five Points Gang was founded by Paul Kelly, born as Paolo Antonio Vaccarelli, and was based in the Sixth Ward (The Five Points) of Manhattan, New York City. Kelly recruited violent hooligans who later became prominent criminals, such as Johnny Torrio, Al Capone and Lucky Luciano

The rivals of the Five Points Gang were the Eastman Gang founded by Edward "Monk" Eastman that was taken over by Arnold "the Brain" Rothstein a Jewish-American racketeer who became a kingpin of the Jewish mob in New York. Waxey Gordon who specialized in bootlegging and illegal gambling worked as a rum-runner for Rothstein during the first years of Prohibition.

The Black Hand gang, ‘La Mano Nera’, were violent extortionists known for bombings and murders. The Black Hand gang was New York's first Mafia family, run by Ignazio "Lupo" Saietta and Giuseppe "Joe" Morello, sprang up in Manhattan and gradually evolved into the group now known as the Genovese Crime Family

The White Hand Gang, first run by Dinny Meehan and then "Wild Bill" Lovett, operated on the New York, Brooklyn, and Red Hook waterfronts from the early 1900s to 1925 and were bitter rivals of the Italian gangsters.

Meyer Lansky was major organized crime figure known as the "Mob's Accountant" and was instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate"

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was a Jewish American mobster who started as a New York bootlegger and a boyhood friend to Al Capone. He became highly influential in the development of the casinos in the Las Vegas Strip. He was known to associate with movie stars and celebrities such as George Raft, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant and threw lavish Hollywood parties at his Beverly Hills home - Hollywood in the 1920s

Frank "Wacky" Scalice was an Italian-American mobster from New York City who started as a bootlegger in the Bronx and helped Bugsy Siegel open the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

Frank Costello, the "Prime Minister of the Underworld," became one of the most powerful and influential mob bosses closely linked to the Genovese crime family.

Abner "Longy" Zwillman began smuggling whiskey into New Jersey through Canada during Prohibition and dated Hollywood actress Jean Harlow.

Jack "Legs" Diamond was an Irish American mobster in Philadelphia and New York City during the Prohibition era. He organized bootleg sales in downtown Manhattan. His main rival was Dutch Schultz. He was murdered on December 18, 1931, his killers were never found.

Johnny "The Brain" Torrio brought his protégé Al Capone from New York City to Chicago in 1919

George Remus was known as the "King of the Bootleggers" and reputedly made $40 million in under 3 years

Charles “Lucky” Luciano operated in New York.  “Lucky” Luciano made $4 million per year. He was famous for setting up the Five Families (who originated out of New York City Sicilian Mafia gangs - Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese) to rule New York and establishing a National Crime Syndicate.

Louis "Lepke" Buchalter was a major labor racketeer in New York City. In 1927, Buchalter was arrested for the attempted murder of bootlegger Jack Diamond but the charges were dropped. In 1944 Louis "Lepke" Buchalter was the only major mob boss to receive the death penalty in the United States after being convicted of the murder of a Brooklyn candy store owner named Joseph Rosen

Joseph "Doc" Stacher was a longtime associate of Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano and Frank Costello who started his life of crime in the 1920s running truckloads of bootleg liquor

Joe Adonis was a New York mobster who became an enforcer for Frankie Yale, the boss of some rackets in Brooklyn. Joe Adonis started a bootlegging operation in Brooklyn supplying alcohol to the show business community along Broadway in Manhattan.

Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria was an early Mafia mobster, one of the New York Mafia's Five Families, from 1922 to 1931.

Giuseppe "the Clutch Hand" Morello, aka "The Old Fox", was the first boss of the Morello crime family and later top adviser to Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria.

Umberto Valenti was a Sicilian-born New York City gangster and the boss of what is now called the Genovese crime family, one of the New York Mafia's Five Families, from 1922 to 1931.

Frankie Yale was a violent Brooklyn crime boss and one of Brooklyn's biggest bootleggers. His rivals were the Irish White Hand Gang and his top assassin was Willie "Two-Knife" Altierri.

William "Wild Bill" Lovett was an Irish American gangster and boss of the White Hand Gang and murdered by gangsters working for Frankie Yale in 1923. His murderer was believed to be Willie "Two-Knife" Altierri, who was said to have killed him with a meat cleaver.

Willie "Two-Knife" Altieri was a New York gangster who served as the chief enforcer for Frankie Yale's Italian-American "Black-Hand" gang

Vincenzo Gibaldi, aka Jack "Machine Gun Jack" McGurn was a Chicago gunman of Al Capone and became famous as a chief organizer of the Saint Valentine's Day massacre, although this association has not been proven

Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila was a New York City mobster and the first boss of the Gambino crime family. D'Aquila was shot to death in Manhattan on October 10, 1928

Vince "The Executioner" Mangano joined the Brooklyn Mafia and earned a fortune on the waterfront during Prohibition. His hated rival was Salvatore "Mad Hatter" Maranzano. He replaced Frank Scalise who was dethroned due to his supportive connections with Maranzano.

Carlo Gambino came from a Sicilian family that had been involved in the Mafia for centuries and started in the bootlegging business and became a founder of the American Mafia

Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia was one of the most ruthless, brutal and feared Cosa Nostra mobsters in American history. He worked with Meyer Lansky, Louis Buchalter and Frank Costello and became a hit man and enforcer for Lucky Luciano. He was a labor racketeer and also allied himself with Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria

US American History
1913-1928: WW1 & Prohibition
Al "Scarface" Capone
Chicago Mafia

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