Charles “Lucky” Luciano (born Salvatore Lucania) (24 November 1897, Lercara Friddi, Sicily, Italy — 26 January 1962, Naples, Italy) as a New York City based organized crime boss.
His innovative leadership allowed organized crime in NYC to flourish, particularly during the Prohibition Era.
His family moved to New York City in 1907 and several years later he got his first taste of organized crime as he started a street gang to protect Jewish youngsters from other Italian and Irish youth gangs.
As he grew in the ranks of Italian mob families, Luciano became instrumental in the development of the “Five Families.” In this system five Italian-American mafia families divided New York city into territories. After his boss tried to kill him, and killing his boss instead, Luciano reorganized the organized crime system with him at the top.
He developed “The Commission” which consisted of mafia families and representatives from Irish and Jewish organizations from across the country to oversee organized crime in the United States.
In 1936 Luciano was arrested and convicted on charges related to running a prostitution ring, although Luciano continued to run the crime ring from prison.
During World War II Luciano was approached by US Navy and US Intelligence officials to see that Italian and German spies were prevented from entering the US through the mob controlled waterfront. He was also asked to help the US military with contacts in Sicily to facilitate an Allied invasion. The results and usefulness of his help has been disputed. Despite this, his prison sentence was commuted on the condition that he accept deportation to Sicily. Luciano was an American citizen and protested that he could not be deported, but he was deported anyhow.
He was not completely out of control of the mafia, but had limited actual influence. He died at the Naples International Airport of a heart attack. He was there to welcome a film biographer, but Italian drug agents were also there to arrest him on smuggling charges.
More than 2,000 people attended his funeral in Queens, NY, including old mafia colleagues.
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