Organized crime has come a long way from it's inception in the United States in the 1800's with the migration of the German, Scottish, and British being the first to bring organized crime to the states, followed closely by the Irish and Jews. From the beginning, the scrimping and saving that was attempted did not make ends meet, those who chose to not show the same moral fiber as the typical immigrant came to decide that the only way for them to make it in this new world was to bend the system to fit their own lives. Later, they came over as members of Sicilian and Italian gangs who were ousted during Mussolini's leadership in Italy. Others came to try to make a new life and found that they were unable to do so because of language barriers and lack of skills. These fell into the criminal life because they had to feed their families. After a few years, there were new ideas beginning to develop and the old ways from the old world were not going to continue. With a major war in the criminal world, new thinkers were able to integrate their idea, syndication, into a workable solution for a huge deadly problem. To this day, syndication is used to keep the peace as much as is humanly possible between gang groups who do not have any wish to change their criminal lives. Crime and OC groups have been working to form congruous units, as is displayed by Chicago's Gangster Disciples. The largest organized crime ring currently in the country, they recruit from schools and prisons to ensure they continue to have a large base of operation (Abadinsky, 2007).
Syndication in organized crime helped the entire criminal mindset to change into a more cooperative system of criminal activity, and helped to reduce the amount of killings that were conducted between the different sects of both the New York and Chicago OC rings. Syndication is a conglomeration of groups into a single entity of individual businesses who work together without infringing on each other's rights to do business in an area. Prohibition was a governmental error that was exacerbated by the women's religious groups during the late 1800's and into the early 1900's (Weiser, 2005). By the time the government agreed totally with prohibition the OC groups in New York and Chicago were beginning to make better business for themselves with illegally bootlegging alcohol for the greedy public who refused to allow the government to take away their alcohol (Weiser, 2005). Speakeasys were sprouting up all over. People like Lucky Luciano in New York, and Joe Torrio and Al Capone in Chicago, were making millions of dollars with their involvement in criminal activity that was brought on by prohibition. There were many groups who were manufacturing the alcohol and for the most part there was cooperation between the typically rival gangs to ensure that it was distributed to all the places that needed it (Abadinsky, 2007). Al Capone began to feel the heat in Chicago and moved his operation to Cicero. When that happened, an Irish boss, O'Banion started putting his feelers out a little too far, stealing the stores that were being transported for the Italian OC that was based in Cicero (Abadinsky, 2007). For the most part, though, prohibition gave the OCs across the country the opportunity to branch into a new form of syndication which enabled all those involved to profit heavily from the short-sightedness of the U.S. Government.
Charles "Lucky" Luciano was a junior member of an influential and powerful organized crime group in New York. He, along with Vito Genovese came up with a plan to overtake the gang bosses to become boss himself. Luciano was intent upon becoming the "boss of bosses" and began the Castellammarese War in 1930 with the killing of gang boss Gaetano Reina while he was leaving his aunt's home on a Wednesday evening (Turner Entertainment, 2007). This war was the beginning of the end of the old-world gang boss, and the inception of a new way of looking at organized crime. After all the gang bosses were removed from office by permanent termination, Luciano and Genovese began working with other gang bosses still left after the war. They discussed that there was enough to go around, and that it would be more logical and practical for each of the gang bosses to cooperate instead of continuing to make wars with each other. The other bosses agreed and they began the crime syndicate that is still in operation today (Abadinsky, 2007). As mentioned above, the syndication was expanded even further to the Chicago area with the inception of prohibition. This syndication strengthened the OCs hold over the government because it strengthened in its numbers. The politics in both cities were highly influenced by those who were running the syndicate.
Expansion was a natural by-product of syndication. With fewer people dying and fewer wars being brought forward, those who were in OC groups across the country were beginning to spread their wings and their territories as well. This included other countries as well. Especially with prohibition there was ample opportunity to grow and stabilize within each individual group. Some of the Chicago groups expanded into Wisconsin, and Michigan (Abadinsky, 2007). As the years have gone by, syndication has assisted the OC into other parts of the country, and the occasional integration of ethnicities also worked to the benefit of expansion into other genres of crime, and in other areas of the country as well. Legitimate businesses and criminal activities worked hand-in-hand in many places because of the vast resources available to the bosses of the syndicated OC. Criminal diversity, created during the prohibition years, enabled those who were involved to continue their diversification across the country in restaurant, transportation, and consumption businesses (Abadinsky, pg 56, 2007).
Jerome Skolnick along with his colleagues determined two basic gang types. The types were cultural and entrepreneurial gangs. The cultural gang was singular in ethnicity however their choices of crime were diverse, the crimes included drug trafficking but were not limited to just that one choice of crimes. They were dubbed street gangs. The entrepreneurial gangs, on the other hand, seemed to direct all their attention to involvement in drug crimes alone.
Major differences between the two groups are the ages of those involved. Those in the cultural gangs are from a wide range of ages, from children up to adulthood, whereas those who are more businesslike or entrepreneurial tend to all be adults, with a smaller range of age differences (Abadinsky, pg 235, 2007). Another difference is that those who are in the former group live by a code of loyalty to their "hood" and those who are involved in the gang with them. It is like an extended family whose goal is to wreck havoc on those who are less willing to join a gang. The latter is much better at working toward economic growth than familial loyalty. The drug trafficking within a cultural gang is an integral part, but the turn-around in group members does not lend itself to proper profits from the sales of said drugs. There is no true organization, there are many wars within the different gangs in a community, and these things add to the lack of ability to profit greatly from their crimes.
One of the largest gangs in the nation, the Gangster Disciples started as separate groups. They merged together to become the Black Gangster Disciples, or the BGD. After a while, the group dropped the B, and became the GD. With member population in around 6000, this gang would seem to be entrepreneurial, having leaders and a hierarchy (Abadinsky, 2007). The group has specific members who do specific jobs. The only great differences between this group and a standard entrepreneurial gang is that the age range is vast, and not limited to a small range, and the gang has branched out from just drug trafficking to some other more legitimate "front" businesses to help take the heat off the members. This gang, the GD, is very involved in many different parts of their business, actually developing an organization chart which indicates the positions of members, and specific tasks for each part of the team (Abadinsky, 2007). This structure is not in existence at all in a cultural gang, where the members do not have a set "job" to do, and no one person is actually a leader over the others in the standard sense.
Organized crime has come a long way from its origins. From Lucky Luciano of the Genovese family to Larry Hoover of the Gangster Disciples, they have been able to continue their criminal activities with few inconveniences from law enforcement. It seems that every time the police and the FBI get a handle on organized crime bosses something occurs to deter their investigations. This helps to ensure and enable the syndications of OC groups to flourish even after it seems they are on the verge of eradication.
Abadinsky, H. (2007). Organized Crime, 8th Edition, Thomson, Wadsworth Publication, United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, UK.
Turner Entertainment, (2007). Oh What a Lovely War, The Dying of the Light, the Joseph Valachi Story, Court TV Crime Library, retrieved on October 24, 2007 from http://www.crimelibrary.com/gangsters_outlaws/mob_bosses/valachi/war_4.html.I STORY
Weiser, K. (2005). Speakeasys of the Prohibition Era, Legends of America, American History, retrieved on November 13, 2007 from http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ah-prohibitionspeakeasy.html.