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Impact Of Prohibition As It Relates To Organized Crime

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Prohibition refers to an upward restaurant or bar where people go out for dates, listen to music and hang out with their friends. Prohibition was aimed at reducing drinking in America by eradicating businesses that distributed, sold and manufactured beverages containing alcohol. This was done by the eighteenth Amendment of the constitution of the US. It took away licenses of distillers and brewers and both whole sellers and retailers of alcohol prohibiting them from doing business. Americans had developed a drinking culture that was worrying and it had to be controlled.

Prohibition movements were for med e.g. the Anti –saloon league in 1893 to try and persuade Americans from .As the brewing industry was very successful and competitive retail business thrived among the brewers. There were saloons where by beer and whiskies were sold in glasses. As the business continued to prosper, more saloons were introduced in America .A saloon used to hold 150-200 people and even those who did not drink went to hang out. Gambling and prostitution were vices introduced by saloon owners to make more profits. Soon the saloons were seen as immoral places.

It was believed that once licensing of these businesses was prohibited, the vices would reduce .Reformers and churches would be given a golden opportunity to stop Americans from drinking as there would be no one challenging their campaign. Instead of move being fruitful, it brought a wave of organized crime. Organized crime is described as the rise of illegal activities in cities, inter-states and country wide with an aim of making profits.

Genesis of organized crime

Many gangs were formed to provide the prohibited services to the people. Gangs started selling bootleg liquor and providing prostitution services to people who could not get them from the saloons .Drugs were also widely sold. To get capital to maintain and expand their thriving businesses, the gangs resorted to high-tech crimes as they fought for protection of their business territories, brand names and labor provision contracts. Crime syndicates such as the Mafia rose and there were a lot of street gangs who executed a lot of crime. These criminals took over many cities in America by supplying a lot of bootleg liquor, drugs and prostitutes to the residents. As business was booming many more gangsters plunged into the industry.

Rivalry arose between several groups leading to murders and wars. Most immigrants were involved in these gangs. A lot of bootleg liquor came from Canada, Mexico, and ships in the vicinity of US waters. Legally produced alcohol from America was also a victim of bootleg .Most of it ended in the gangsters hands instead of being used for manufacturing purposes.

The operations of these gangs are kept top secret and communication is done by word of mouth. They seek for help from the society by black mailing, threatening and bribing members of the judiciary, police and legislators’ .This is aimed at having a mutually beneficial relationship with legal businesses. It is thus integrated into society by politicians, policemen and legal advisors who are corrupt. The main earners of these gangs are; prostitution, drug trafficking, gambling and extortion.

 The mafia is one of such criminal organizations. It is also known as the Mob. This is a gang that was formed by persons from the Sicily. Italians who migrated to America at the beginning of 20th century and could not speak English found them selves clustered in the same neighborhoods. The American residents whom they found treated them suspiciously and they could not be sufficiently protected by the police force. They decided to use vigilante law to protect each other from perceived danger in a foreign land. Mid 20th century, mafia had extended its tentacles into the American society. They were involved in all types of crimes including tax evasion, drug trafficking, gambling and prostitution.

They also offered professional hit men who could take out anyone they were hired to kill. There was a lot of fear associated to mafia by Americans. They were seen as ruthless and did not hesitate to take you out if you stood on the way of their business. The crime leaders from different gangs came together in 1930 to curb inter -gang rivalry. These were Lucky Luciano and Louis Kepke Buchalter. They demarcated boundaries geographically and spread their policies using murder Inc and cohorts in the hoodlum. They also distributed profits from the businesses. When Luciano was arrested and went through a trial which led to his conviction and deportation to Italy, organized crime was seen as dead. His accomplice Buchalter was executed and thus murder Inc broke up. This was short lived as the organized crime gangs were back.

 In 1951 as it was revealed by U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver and his investigative committee that the gangs were performing their activities behind legitimate businesses and avoidance of activities perceived as criminal behavior. This guaranteed them no prosecution. The government tried deporting the top leaders but to no avail. The congress tried eradicating this vice by passing the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).This was aimed at controlling the damaging effects to the economy by these organized crimes especially the mafia. These included; prosecuting the leader of a criminal gang caught in racketeering and Sentence him to serve time in prison even if he was not directly involved in the criminal activities.

 Organized crime always intimidates police officers and they always mete violence on any officer who is seen as eager to stop them. Recently organized crimes are structured like multinationals and boast of marketing multinational commodities .Blacks, Latinos, Chinese and other minority groups in America have organized gangs in several cities  selling and distributing narcotic drugs .They have also penetrated the white-collar jobs by sale of fraud health insurances, swindling stocks and selling phony cards for phones. There is a lot of loan sharking and gambling associated to the mafia. Racketeering and extortion have also skyrocketed to such great heights. With the internet being easily available, there is a lot of identity theft and fraud done online.


Organized crime will always manifest itself in the society as there is a lot of corruption and people in influential positions who benefit from it. The crime keeps on changing faces with time to suit and thrive in the society within which it exists. As the gangs are mostly formed by immigrants who view themselves as minority groups, the government can come up with policies that favor them in getting jobs to discourage them from engaging in criminal activities. The minority groups have often claimed to be neglected by most governments resulting in the above vices through organized gangs to sustain themselves. There should be severe punishment for individuals in the police force; legislature and politicians caught corroborating with these gangs. The above stand in the way of these criminals being properly tried and jailed for the crimes they have committed. Prohibiting something from being sold is not an answer to a problem as people will always find an alternative. Teaching people of the consequences of the vice is a more probable solution.

Work cited:

Behr, E. (1998). Prohibition. Arcade publishing

Harrison, J. (2009). Organized crime. Michigan State University Libraries

 Mahan, S. & O’Neil, K. (1995). Beyond the Mafia. Sage publisher

Thornton, M.  (1991). Alcohol prohibition was a failure. The Cato Institute

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