Organized Crime and Prohibition

Organized Crime and Prohibition


"The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile and children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent."

Reverend Billy Sunday delivered this quotation during a speech at the beginning of prohibition. Many people believed and hoped that prohibition would make the above true. However, as they watched and waited, they realized that nothing was improved, and somehow, things had gotten worse.

The following are statistics detailing how much worse crime got:

  • Police funding: INCREASED $11.4 Million
  • Arrests for Prohibition Las Violations: INCREASED 102+%
  • Arrests for Drunkenness and Disorderly Conduct: INCREASED 41%
  • Arrests of Drunken Drivers: INCREASED 81%
  • Thefts and Burglaries: INCREASED 9%
  • Homicides, Assault, and Battery: INCREASED 13%
  • Number of Federal Convicts: INCREASED 561%
  • Federal Prison Population: INCREASED 366%
  • Total Federal Expenditures on Penal Institutions: INCREASED 1,000%


"Not only did the number of serious crimes increase, but crime became organized. Criminal groups organize around the steady source of income provided by laws against victimless crimes such as consuming alcohol or drugs, gambling and prostitution. In the process of providing goods and services those criminal organizations resort to real crimes in defense of sales territories, brand names, and labor contracts. That is true of extensive crime syndicates (the Mafia) as well as street gangs, a criminal element that first surfaced during prohibition."

"The contributing factor to the sudden increase of felonies was the organization of crime, especially in large cities. Because liquor was no longer legally available, the public turned to gangsters who readily took on the bootlegging industry and supplied them with liquor. On account of the industry being so profitable, more gangsters became involved in the money-making business. Crime became so organized because "criminal groups organize around the steady source of income provided by laws against victimless crimes such as consuming alcohol. As a result of the money involved in the bootlegging industry, there was much rival between gangs. The profit motive caused over four hundred gang related murders a year in Chicago alone."

Bootleg alcohol is what fueled the work of Organized crime. Most of the men involved in the Mafia or gangs were young immigrants. The business of bootleg alcohol was highly profitable for everyone involved which often fueled the Mafia or gang wars. By the late 1920's more than 1 million gallons of bootleg liquor had been illegally brought into the United States. Most of the alcohol came in either through Canada or from ships that were located just beyond U.S. waters. See Coast Guard Pictures during the Prohibition Era. However, there was alcohol being produced legally in the United States that was also being bootlegged. Most of the alcohol being produced for use in manufacture often ended up being bootlegged. We will look more at bootleg alcohol, speakeasies and other forms of illegal alcohol as we look at life for the average American.



Al Capone:

See More on Al Capone

The Al Capone Museum


Chicago became home to Capone and many other organized crime gangs. "For a city that is so filled with the history of crime, there has been little preservation of the landmarks that were once so important to the legend of the mob in Chicago. Gone are the landmarks like the Lexington Hotel, where Al Capone kept the fifth floor suite and used the place as his headquarters. But most tragic, at least to crime buffs, was the destruction of the warehouse that was located at 2122 North Clark Street. It was here, on Valentine's Day 1929, that the most spectacular mob hit in gangland history took place..... the St. Valentine's Day Massacre."


Bodies Being Removed From the Garage Where the Massacre Took Place

A History of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre



The Lineup :


.............................

Johnny Torrio Biography.............................................. Bugs Moran Biography

 

If one doubts the mob's or Al Capone's great impact on Prohibition, the following newspaper explains it undoubtedly. The Headline reading that a jury convicted Al Capone is bigger than one announcing the death of America's most prominent inventor - Thomas A. Edison!


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