Together with the data, the U. S. Census gave textual analysis of the figures and noted that there was a proportional decrease in the less serious crimes to property to the increase in the more serious crimes of robbery, forgery, rape and homicide. The following explanation was given:
Several of the gainful offenses against property showed a decrease, and the decreases for larceny, burglary, and fraud are of considerable interest and importance, as indicating a probable diversion of activity for a large proportion of habitual criminals from certain gainful offenses against property to others of the same class, and a turning aside from this whole class of offenses to liquor and drug selling, as the enactment of prohibitory legislation, especially the Federal laws, made the latter pursuits increasingly profitable. 29 And profitable it was.
It was estimated that the government lost tax revenues of over USD11 billion. Instead, it was the bootleggers who ended up with the money. While criminal gangs were already in existence, it was during prohibition where it gained a seemingly permanent foothold. The prohibition opened economic opportunities which only required little capital outlay but with high returns. This tempted lot of criminal entrepreneurs including the smalltime crooks. Competition became fierce. To win the territory, it had become necessary to eliminate the rival, by force or otherwise.
There was a standing rule, however, that the violence was to be confined within the insiders and that care had to be taken that no innocent bystanders were hurt or killed. Public relations were important to the business because maintaining good public opinion ensured continued patronage by the public. With the huge profits involved, it was understandable to see why small-time criminals doing small-time crimes shifted from bootlegging even if entailed committing big-crime offenses to get ahead of the competition. 30
Nonetheless, the killings had to stop or at least kept to a minimum. It was not good for business. It disrupted operations. Dominant forces thus emerged who opted for cooperation over competition. With the territories defined, it allowed for expansion into bootlegging and smuggling to congruent vices of illegal gambling, and prostitution and even labor racketeering. The Prohibition had much to do with the public’s tolerance of the mob. It made several hundred thousand law-abiding citizens break the law or at least just this law.
However, it also impacted the people’s attitude towards law in general that disregard for the law had become a way of life. 31 These were varied groups normally drawn together by ancestry. The most popular was Chicago’s Al Capone for his well-publicized altercation with Elliot Ness. Although it was predominantly Italian in membership, there were also non-Italians within the hierarchy such as “Jack Guzik, who was widely regarded as the "brains" of the gang, Murray Humphreys, Sam Hunt, Dennis Cooney, Hymie Levin, and Edward Vogel.
” In Boston and Philadelphia, the mob was predominantly Jewish first headed by Charles ("King") Solomon and when he was murdered in 1933, he was succeeded by Hyman Abrams for Boston and by Max ("Boo Boo") Hoff for Philadelphia. In Detroit, there was the “Purple Gang”, who supplied Capone with his Canadian whiskey. By 1931, however, the Italians established for themselves prominent roles in the bootlegging business during the booze wars in Kansas City, Denver and Los Angeles.
On the other hand, no dominant group could take undisputed control of New Orleans and San Francisco as these were decided by Louisiana politicians and San Francisco police officers. In March 1937, a grand jury disclosed the extent and how high up the corruption was in that city as it reported that “San Francisco's four police captains had for years controlled and regulated gambling, prostitution, and other illegal activities in his own district.
” It was in New York, however, which had the largest market for illegal alcohol. Hence, as it is in any other business, the larger the money involved, the more players there are. It was said that “during the bootleg wars of the 1920s, more than one thousand gangsters were killed in New York. ” By 1930, the Italians eventually got ahead but could still not be considered as the dominant force in New York City. 32