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Video:Prohibition and Organized Crime

with Mike Jordan

Prohibition and organized crime defined American history in the 1920s. Watch this About.com video for an overview of the Prohibition and organized crime eras of 20th century history.See Transcript

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Transcript:Prohibition and Organized Crime

Hi, I am Mike Jordan and I am here for About.com. Today I am going to talk about Prohibition and organized crime.

Link Between Prohibition and Organized Crime

Prohibition was the period in United States history in which the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors was outlawed. However, since many citizens still wanted to drink, the law remained largely unpopular. This meant that not only was there a demand for alcohol, there was an opportunity for large profits for those who could supply it. It didn't take long for criminals to turn into businessmen, supplying the public with alcohol for a nominal fee. Businesslike crime empires arose throughout the country and organized crime became big business as rival gangs fought one another for control of the illegal booze traffic and other criminal enterprises.

Chicago and Organized Crime

Two of the most famous crime bosses of the Prohibition era were Arnold "The Brain" Rothstein in New York and Alphonse "Scarface" Capone in Chicago. Although gangster crime rose all over the country during Prohibition, Chicago was by far the hot bed of gangland warfare. Hundreds died in the gang wars of Chicago alone and the violence reached a dramatic peak on February 14, 1929. On that day,  seven members of the "Bugs" Moran gang were machine-gunned down in a garage in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Like most gang murders, the Massacre went unsolved, though Capone was the suspected instigator.

End of Prohibition Era

When Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, alcohol was once again legal. Bootlegging gangsters, no longer able to make hefty profits from selling alcohol, redirected their organizations to control other criminal activities, such as gambling, narcotics, and business and labor racketeering. Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.

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