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Top ten gangsters during the American Prohibition

Written by Top 100 Arena on 2012-08-09
Prohibition was a period of fourteen years in the history of the United States when the manufacture, sale and transportation of intoxicating liquors were forbidden. This was a time when even the average citizen broke laws, just to get his/ her hands on a few drinks. This was in effect from January 1920 to December 1993. It was during this time that the society saw a rise in the number of mobsters and gangsters. Mafia began to develop the image that it currently has. This huge supply- demand gap in the alcohol business was what the gangsters cashed in on and rose to fame! Keep reading if you want to find out who were the top gangsters of that era:

10 Al Capone:

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An internationally renowned booze smuggler, he was filthy rich and a murderer. At one point of time in his career, he was actually making $100 million a year, from booze, gambling, racketeering, prostitution and other illegal trade. Capone was never convicted of illegal smuggling, but IRS caught onto his money trail and he was convicted for tax evasion. He built one of the largest organized crime organizations in the world and died of cardiac arrest in 1947. More info

9 Lucky Luciano:

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Probably the richest gangster in the world during his time. Most of his money was made by heroine trafficking long after prohibition ended, but he cashed in on that period too. Luciano imported scotch, whisky and rum directly from Scotland, Canada and Caribbean respectively. He was wounded in the Castellammarese war, but survived scarred and droopy eyed. A little after 1931, Luciano rose to the power of sitting atop the five Mafia families of equal stature. In 1936, he was convicted of running the largest prostitution ring ever in history. More info

8 Meyer Lansky:

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He headed one of the most violent gangs during the Prohibition Era with his partner Bugsy Siebel. He was responsible for Lucky Luciano’s rise to power in 1931. He had organized the murder of the then Mafia King Salvatore Maranzano. But Lansky preferred to keep low and was mostly engaged as a financial advisor to Luciano. He helped out during the Second World War too, when gangsters were used by Intelligence Department to get them news of German spies and the like. Meyer Lansky died of lung cancer in 1983. More info

7 Johnny Torrio:

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He created the empire that Al Capone took over. During prohibition when Torrio’s boss refused to take up booze smuggling fearing cop intervention, Torrio had him murdered at his own restaurant. He was one of the founders of modern organized crime in America. He was charged with income tax evasion, imprisoned and then released. Finally he died of a heart attack in 1957. More info

6 Arnold Rothstein:

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The only gangster who cashed in just when the Prohibition Era was beginning and the only gangster who tried to take the violence out of the situation. He was a hard core gambler and was murdered after reneging on a $300,000 loss when he accused the others of cheating. He was killed in cold blood, but did not identify his perpetrators to the police. More info

5 Bugs Moran:

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An arch rival of Al Capone and Johnny Torrio, he never took orders from the other gangs. He was the last of the North side gang leaders. He had the street- smart attitude if not the brains of Torrio and he had the scars that showed his “do or die” attitude. He was willing to go to any lengths to prove his mettle. He murdered Capone’s associates and ruled for almost a decade. More info

4 Enoch “Nucky” Johnson:

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He was the man who ran Atlantic City for thirty years! He allied with Arnold Rothstein, Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Johnny Torrio and others to make Atlantic City one of the largest hot spots for booze smuggling. He controlled people through fear and charm. He was also importantly a leading Republican political stature. Most of his clout was due to his political allies and connections. He had a three decade long regime and went down only after being convicted for tax evasion. Nucky was imprisoned for ten years. More info

3 Frank Nitti:

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He was Capone’s muscle. Any problem, any commotion, Nitti was the person to go to. He was nicknamed “The Enforcer”, but delegated all the violent activities to his underlings. It was very rare that he did an assignment by himself. He was extremely claustrophobic and when convicted for 18 months, served his time in a lot of discomfort. Nitti feared the idea of long term imprisonment and therefore shot himself in 1943, to keep from being killed by the other mobsters. More info

2 Bugsy Segal:

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As a teenager Segal worked with Lansky, on gambling rings and was a part of a car theft ring. He was also a preferred hit man for his clean hits. Around the 1930’s he began to build ties with Lucky Luciano and eventually rose up to a decent membership post in the Mafia families. He was very useful for the mob in times of war, when the price of everything was extremely inflated. Segal proved lucky in the construction industry and was able to procure material from the black market.

1 Giuseppe/ Joe Masseria:

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He was an enforcer for the Morello gang and arranged the death of the new boss of the Morello family. Following this, he became the head of the Morello family. He was assassinated in 1931. Luciano then took over Masseria’s family.

The Prohibition Era was the fuel behind organized crime in modern society. It just goes to show how society and some so called decisions for the better of the people, actually go on to spawn evil that spreads throughout. At the centre it is only greed.

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