Tag Archives: Sicily

Jews and their role in organised crime

We regularly hear about various organised crime groups; the most famous one being the “Italian Mafia” but most people have never heard of Jewish gangsters such as Arnold Rothstein (1882-1928), Meyer Lansky (real name- Meyer Suchowljansky 1902-1983), Meyer Harris “Mickey” Cohen (1913-1976) and jewish organised crime groups such as the ‘Purple Gang’ which operated from 1910 to 1932.

Furthermore the term ‘Italian Mafia’ is not accurate since in reality the founders of each one of the five crime families that made up the ‘Italian’ mob were all from Sicily and most of the members were also from Sicily and Southern Italy. A less known fact is the Jewish involvement in the ‘Italian’ mob; for example the Jewish gangster Benjamin Siegel also known as ‘Bugsy’ Siegel was a prominent member of the Sicilian Luciano crime family and the Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky was a close associate of the Sicilian mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano.

Another organised crime group called ‘Murder, Inc. (or Murder Incorporated)’ that operated from the 1930s through the 1940s, was made up of mostly Jewish and some Southern Italian mobsters. It was originally headed by the Jew Louis “Lepke” Buchalter and later by the Southern Italian Albert Anastasia (born Umberto Anastasio).