How Al Capone's Empire Grew

Topics: Cocaine, Al Capone, United States Pages: 9 (3761 words) Published: May 2, 2007
Al Capone's Whiskey Importation Turns Into Cocaine Hydrochloride Al Capone had been a juvenile delinquent and gained his "scarface" nickname after he was slashed across the cheek while working as a night club bouncer. The once small-time thug moved up and up to become the head of a huge villainous organization, believed to be responsible for at least 300 murders. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre in which seven members of a rival gang were lined up against a garage wall and gunned down, is probably the most notorious and bloody killing attributable to Capone's reign of terror in Chicago's 1920's. However, Capone was more prominent in going against the law of prohibition. While alcohol was outlawed, Capone smuggled whiskey from Canada to New York and then on to Chicago. Bringing in this illegal good is what made Capone $105 million in 1927 alone. Although alcohol is now legal, the United States is still a consumer of illegal substances. One of these main illegal imports is cocaine. It is shipped up from Central American countries and then distributed throughout the states. The problem is that it's not just a few key people as it was in the days of Capone, but many take part in this country to country business. The government tries to control the problem, but can't get off as easy as convicting them of tax evasion as it did to Capone. Much has been written and said about Al Capone, most of which is completely false. One of the most common fictions is that like many gangsters of the Capone era, he was a native Italian. This is not true. This amazing crime czar was born in Brooklyn, taking the feudal Italian criminal society and turning it into a modern American criminal enterprise. Many Italian immigrants, like immigrants of all nationalities, frequently came to the United States with very few belongings. Many of them were peasants of rural Italy escaping the lack of opportunity. When they arrived at large American port cities they often ended up as laborers due to their inability to speak and write English. This was not the case with Al Capone's family. Gabriele Capone was one of 43,000 Italians who arrived in the U.S. in 1894. A barber by trade, he could read and write his native language. He was from the village of Castellmarre di Stabia, sixteen miles south of Naples. At thirty years old, Gabriele brought with him his pregnant twenty-seven-year-old wife Teresina, his two-year-old son Vincenzo and his infant son Raffaele. Gabriele was one of few Italian immigrants who did not owe money for his passage over. His plan was to do whatever it took to open his own barber shop. Along with thousands of other Italians, the Capone family moved to Brooklyn near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was a bare beginning in the New World. The Capones' new home was a cold-water tenement flat that had no indoor toilet or furnishings. The neighborhood was a slum, given its nearness to the noisy Navy Yard. Gabriele's ability to read and write opened an opportunity to get a job in a grocery store until his barber shop was up and running. Teresina, in spite of her duties as a mother, took in sewing piecework for an addition to the family income. Her third child, Salvatore was born in 1895. Her fourth son and the first to be born and conceived in the New World was born January 17, 1899. His name was Alphonse. What kind of people were these two, giving birth to one of the world's most notorious criminals? Did they pass on to him some genetic strain of violence? Some subtly mutated chromosomes? Was Alphonse abused as a child? Did he spend his younger years in the company of murderers and thieves? Definitely not. The Capones were a quiet, conventional family. "The mother...kept to herself. Her husband, Don Gabriele, made more of an impression, since he was, in the words of one family friend, 'tall and handsome --very good-looking.' Like his wife, he was subdued, even when it came to discipline. He never hit the kids. He used to talk to them. He used to...

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