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Lucky Luciano was an Italian-born American mobster best known for engineering the structure of modern organized crime in the United States.
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Charles "Lucky" Luciano was born Salvatore Lucania in Sicily, Italy, on November 24, 1897. Luciano split New York City into five crime families, heading the Genovese crime family himself. He also initiated The Commission, which served as a governing body for organized crime nationwide. Luciano moved to Havana and was later deported to Italy, living out his final years in Naples.
Born Salvatore Lucania in Sicily in 1897, Charles "Lucky" Luciano became one of the most notorious criminal figures of the 20th century. He came to the United States with his family in 1906. Not able to speak English, Luciano struggled in school. He preferred to learn about how to make it on the streets of New York's Lower East Side.
One of Luciano's first rackets was getting his schoolmates to pay him for protection. If they didn't cough up the money, he was liable to give them a beating himself. Luciano dropped out of school in 1914 and graduated to other offenses. While he worked as a clerk for a hat company for some time, he managed a budding criminal career as well. The teenaged Luciano befriended Jewish gang members Meyer Lansky and his associate Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, who would become two of his most important allies. He also became affiliated with Guiseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria's criminal operation. Luciano got involved in dealing drugs, which led to his first major run with the law in 1916. He was caught selling heroin and served six months at a reformatory for the crime.
During the 1920s, the prohibition of alcohol created opportunities for criminals to make a lot of money. Luciano became one of the "Big Six" of bootlegging along with childhood friend Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro and Long Zwillman. These unscrupulous characters dominated the illegal liquor trade on the East Coast. Luciano was also an associate of Arnold Rothstein, also known as the Big Bankroll, who had gambling and bootlegging operations.
In 1929, Luciano lived up his nickname "Lucky" by surviving a savage attack. He had been abducted by a group of men, who beat and stabbed him. Left for dead on a beach in Staten Island, Luciano was discovered by a police officer and taken to the hospital. It was unclear who ordered the attack, but some speculated that it was the police or top crime boss Masseria. Masseria was in a turf war with rival boss Salvatore Maranzano around this time. Luciano had worked for Masseria for years, but he later supported Marazano. He helped arrange for Masseria to meet a grisly end in April 1931.
Rising to power, Luciano took over Masseria's position as the top boss with Marazano's approval. He became a leader of the one of the city's five families, taking his place alongside such infamous figures as Joseph Bonanno, Joseph Profaci, Tom Gagliano and Vincent Mangano. Unfortunately for Luciano, Marazano soon viewed him as a threat and ordered a hit on him. But Luciano was able to strike him first, having some of his men take out Marazano in his office in September 1931.
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