Were it not for the prohibition of alcohol in the early 1900s, the United States may not have seen the growth in organized crime that so defined the century. Prohibition (1920-1933) transformed loosely structured gangs into highly efficient crime syndicates, in part because law enforcement was woefully unprepared to combat organized crime. Bootlegging operations capitalized on the demand for alcohol and earned public support. Even when the 18th Amendment was repealed, ending Prohibition, the Chicago and New York City mafias kept their strongholds with diversified operations. Only in the 1960s and 1970s, with federal initiatives such as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, did law enforcement gain the tools to effectively combat organized crime.
This case chronicles the rise of organized crime in the United States, centering on the crime syndicates of Chicago and New York City. Surveying the preconditions, bootlegging operations, turf wars, and political corruption, the case follows the careers of famous mafiosos such as Al Capone, as well as the legacies of ineffective and effective political leaders.
- Understand the preconditions for organized crime in the United States.
- Become familiar with the history of the Mafia in the United States.
- Consider the role that law enforcement and government play in the success or failure of crime syndicates.
organized crime, deterrence, Prohibition, the Mafia, mob bosses, crime syndicates, gangsters, Al Capone, La Cosa Nostra, bootlegging, political corruption, turf wars, law enforcement, political machine, labor unions, Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act
Geographic: Chicago, New York
Industry: Bootlegging; Organized Crime
Event Start Date: early 1900s
To obtain accessible versions of our products for use by those with disabilities, please contact the HLS Case Studies Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-617-496-1316.
Please note that each purchase of this product entitles the purchaser to one download and use. If you need multiple copies, please purchase the number of copies you need. For more information, see Copying Your Case Study.