Top 10 Most Notorious US Mafia and Crime Bosses of the XX Century

Tags: #AlCapone ,   #Mafia ,   #Crime ,   #LuckyLuciano ,   #Gotti

Alex O'Brien

Alex O'Brien

Last updated:  2023-05-27 09:47:13

In the XX century, criminals were, we can almost say, famous. This is because, despite their undisputed brutality, they were often helping people. Most of them originated from low-income families, so they've tried to get back something and support their old communities. However, their crimes can't be forgotten, as they brought misery to many people. So even though they performed some unselfish acts, these mobsters still can't overcome their sins. So let's take a closer look at the top ten most notorious crime bosses of the XX century.

10. Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel 

Bugsy Siegel opened the first hotel on Las Vegas Strip

Bugsy Siegel was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1906 as a son of Jewish immigrants. At a young age, he extorted local shop owners to pay him protection money. Later on, Bugsy was a hitman for the Italian and Jewish mafia. Moreover, he co-founded Murder Inc, responsible for many assassinations at the time.  

However, in 1936 Bugsy moved to California, where he started socializing with Hollywood celebrities as he ran a racketeering and gambling business. He opened up the first casino on Las Vegas Strip, the Flamingo, on behalf of East Coast mobsters. However, he crossed them over, so they ordered a hit job on him, ending his life at only 41.

9. Vito Genovese

Vito Genovese was a friend with Benito Mussolini

Born in Italy in 1897, Vito Genovese moved to New York as a child. As a young boy, he was an errand boy for the mafia. His close friend from an early age was Lucky Luciano, whom Vito helped establish the Commission. Genovese was involved in every possible crime-related business, so at some point, he had to flee the USA to avoid murder charges. 

He went to Italy and continued running his heroin business in the USA from there. Moreover, during World War II, he became a close friend of Italian fascist dictator Mussolini. After a while, he was extradited to the USA to face charges, but as the witness was found dead, Vito walked as a free man. Later on, in 1958, he finally ended up in jail, where he died eleven years later.

8. Francesco Castiglia - Frank Costello

Frank Costello was respected by Cosa Nostra's bosses well after he retired

Born in Italy in 1891, Frank Costello moved to New York at an early age. As a young boy, he became a gang member, and soon his crime involvement became his business. He was a friend of Lucky Luciano and associated with Vito Genovese and Bugsy Siegel. Moreover, they run a crime operation involving prostitution, gambling, and drug business - basically every criminal activity.

In 1957 he was shot by order of Vito Genovese, who wanted to take his place. Remarkably, Frank survived, but his power was diminished. Moreover, he retired and enjoyed a peaceful life while keeping Cosa Nostra's bosses' respect. He died in 1973.

7. Samuel Mooney Giancana - Sam Giancana 

Chicago mob boss whose love for the attention cost him life - Sam Giancana

Sam Giancana was born in 1908 as a child of Italian immigrants in Chicago. He was ruthless, and in his early 20s, he became a member of the Chicago Outfit criminal organization, working for Al Capone. After Tony Accardo stepped down, Giancana became the boss of Outfit but wasn't very successful. Instead of keeping a low profile, he attracted the public attention and the FBI's as well, finally ending up in prison.

Afterward, he moved to Mexico, and shortly after he returned to the USA in 1974, he was killed. Allegedly he helped John F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign. Moreover, there was speculation about his involvement in J.F. Kennedy's assassination.

6. John Gotti

John Gotti was named "The Teflon Don" as no charges could stick on him

John Gotti was a child of Italian immigrants, born in 1940 in New York. As a young fellow, he often got in trouble due to his bad temper. By the age of 12, he was already working as an errand boy for the club run by the mafia, the most dangerous criminal organization. He often ended up in prison as he moved up in the organized crime business. 

In 1985 he ordered a hit on crime boss Paul Castellano and took his place in running the organization. Gotti earned his nickname "Teflon Don," as the Feds couldn't stick any charges on him. Finally, he was arrested in 1992 and sentenced for numerous crimes, dying in prison in 2002.

5. Constantino Paul Castellano

Paul Castellano had a nose for the business and was known as "The Howard Hughes of the Mob"

Paul Castellano was born in 1915 in Brooklyn, New York, to Italian immigrants. His father was related to the crime family Mangano, so Castellano was involved in crime life from an early age. Later on, his sister married the crime boss.

At a young age, he was arrested and spent a few months in jail, refusing to reveal his accomplices, proving his loyalty to the mafia. He had a good sense of business, and because of that, he was named the successor of the Gambino crime family. However, he was killed in 1985 by John Gotti's orders, who didn't approve Castellano's ban on drug trafficking.

4. Frank Lucas

Drug kingpin Frank Lucas and his heroin product Blue Magic was popular in the 1960s

Born in 1940 in North Carolina, Frank Lucas started his criminal career in Harlem, New York. He moved there as a young teenager and started with some minor crimes. Afterward, Lucas began to work for Bumpy Johnson, Harlem's mob boss. After Johnson's death, Lucas traveled to Thailand, where with the help of U.S. Army sergeant Ike Atkinson, he started smuggling heroin into the USA, cutting out the middleman.

Moreover, they used the coffins of the dead soldiers to bring the drugs in. Lucas became a drug kingpin throughout the 1960s and 1970s before being arrested in 1975. However, he cooperated with the authorities and went to witness protection, serving only five years. The movie about his life is among the best gangster movies ever.

3. Anthony Joseph Accardo - Tony Accardo

Tony Accardo had the nickname Big Tuna, as he loved fishing

Italian Tony Accardo was born in Chicago in 1906. By the age of twenty, he was working for Al Capone. By 23, he was involved in every existing crime-related business.

After Al Capone was jailed and his successors died or also went behind bars, Accardo became the head of Chicago Outfit. Hence, as a leader, he brought order to the crime business, as the Outfit thrived under his leadership. His successful criminal career lasted for decades before he stepped down from the boss duties, retired, and lived a peaceful life until he died in 1992.

2. Charles "Lucky" Luciano

Capo di tutti capi – Lucky Luciano

Lucky Luciano was born in Sicily in 1897 and moved to New York at an early age. As a young boy, he was a gang member, earning his money by offering protection to other kids. He ran many businesses: prostitution, gambling, racketeering, bootlegging, extortion, you name it! Moreover, he became "Capo di tutti capi" (Godfather), but he never accepted that title to avoid putting the target on his back. Lucky is considered a mastermind behind establishing the National Crime Syndicate in America.

In 1936 he was arrested and sentenced for running prostitution. Still, he helped U.S. Navy during World War II and was released from prison and deported to Italy. Lucky spent some time in Cuba, organizing drug smuggling to the USA. However, after a short time, the USA forced Cuba to deport him to Italy, where he had run his crime business and died in 1962.

1. Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone

Public Enemy number 1 – Al Capone

We all know about Al Capone, a notorious Italian-American mob boss who ran Chicago in the 1920s. He was born in New York, Brooklyn, in 1899, where he joined a gang at a young age. Afterward, he moved to Chicago and assisted his mentor Johnny Torrio in the bootlegging business, which he later took on.  

Capone was known for using extreme violence. He was a gangster posing as a businessman, as he ran prostitution, gambling, bootlegging, and racketeering. The public loved him as he opened the first soup kitchen in Chicago and tried to help the ones in need. However, after many attempts to put him in jail, the prosecution finally charged him with tax evasion and sentenced him to eleven years.

Hollywood made many movies inspired by the crimes of these notorious top ten crime bosses. However, even though they are well-remembered, most of them had a short life, as you can see.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by these criminals? What was your favorite one? Please write to us in the comment section below. 

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