The History of Organized Crime in America

Topics: Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, National Crime Syndicate Pages: 5 (1999 words) Published: December 14, 2008
American organized crime (or the Mafia/Mob as it is known by some) begins not in the streets of Manhattan or Chicago or other big cities as some like to think. It begins as the seemingly innocent protection of Sicilian landowners when they are away from their farms. By the 1800’s, these ‘protectors’ had become corrupt, bullying people for their so-called protection and running other illegal activities all throughout Sicily. When the laws of Benito Mussolini became increasingly strict, so strict that their illegal activities became hard to run, many of these men moved to the United States where they could continue to bully people and make their money the way they had been doing for years. This is where the ‘American Mafia’ begins.

It is believed that the real start of organized crime in America was with the start of Prohibition, The Eighteenth Amendment, which stated “After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.” This is partially true as this is when many of the crime syndicates began their illegal activities, especially the selling of illegal spirits. As more Sicilian gangsters immigrated to the U.S., they expanded their criminal activities from extortion to loan-sharking, prostitution, drugs and alcohol, robbery, kidnapping, and murder. In the beginning, the Mafia preyed mostly on the Southern Italians who had settled in America, though by 1904, they had branches in most parts of the United States and preyed on anyone that they could. They became such a problem that a special police force was formed to try and fight it. The New York police even sent a man to Italy to see how these criminals were getting to the United States illegally.

Every potential criminal that fled to the United States, from Sicily and Italy, knew that there was money to be made in the States. This period in the States established the "American Mafia," originated from the famous Five Pointers Gang, which many of the strongest members came from, including Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, and Alphonse “Al” Capone. Charles Luciano, more famously known as “Lucky” Luciano, was the one of the founders of the national crime syndicate in the 1930's. Luciano started his prostitution racket in 1920 and by 1925 he had control over most of the prostitution in Manhattan. In 1929, an attempt to take his life was made but he miraculously survived the brutal attack, which caused him to make a big move. He gathered all his power, and eliminated all opposing "bosses" and by 1935, “Lucky” Luciano was considered "The Boss of Bosses." He was now the model mobster, running businesses and controlling crime all across America. He was also very influential in labor and union activities and controlled the Manhattan Waterfront, garbage hauling, construction, Garment Center businesses, and trucking. Luciano also organized “the Commission” in 1931, even now still the governing body of the Mafia in the United States. It was meant to minimize gang wars and while it did succeed to a point, it didn’t get rid of all rivalries. It was (and still is, in theory) headed by the five biggest crime families in the country, the Bonanno’s, the Gambino’s, the Columbo’s, the Genovese’s, and the Lucchese’s. Ever the businessman, when he was imprisoned during World War Two, he and some other mafia people supposedly teamed up with The United States and the Allies against the Germans and Italians when they tried to take Sicily, ancestral home of many of the bosses. The “…mafia teamed up with the Allies during WWII, undermining the Axis' line of bunkers deep within the hillsides…” Luciano's reign was relatively short-lived though. When he was deported back to Sicily, he continued to try to control the...
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