13. Old Country Mafia Ties Gave the American Mafia a Competitive Edge
Similar to illegal narcotics today, the profits that could be made from illegal alcohol were astronomical. Seemingly overnight, bootlegging became irresistible to criminal organizations across America. Their task was made easier by much of the public, as well as many cops and politicians, who did not see the sale or consumption of alcohol as particularly venal or morally blameworthy. The end result was a boost to organized crime in general, and to Italian organized crime, the mafia, in particular. In this new environment, Italian gangsters found themselves particularly well positioned to take advantage of the situation and prosper beyond their wildest dreams.
Thanks to the mafia back in the Old Country, ethnic Italian criminals in the US could draw upon a tradition of sophisticated, organized, hierarchical, and disciplined criminal organizations. Unlike their ethnic criminal competitors, Italian gangsters not only had an effective model to replicate, but also experienced personnel who could readily duplicate the Old Country’s system in the US. Prohibition was eventually repealed in 1933, and the American alcohol industry was restored to well-regulated legality. By then, however, modern organized crime, and the Italian-American mafia, had become well established and well-nigh ineradicable. They remain with us to this day.