Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Charles “Lucky” Luciano, born Salvatore Lucania, was probably the most well known mob boss in the history of the American Mafia. He arrived in New York with his parents from Sicily in 1906 and at the young age of ten years old was already involved in crime. He only blew up from there. He was involved with muggings and shopliftings at that age and in 1916, at the age of twenty, he did six months in jail for selling drugs. He was a member of the infamous Five Points Gang then as well. In 1920, he joined the Masseria Crime Family and in five years, he was chief lieutenant of the family. He was in charge of the bootlegging and prostitution rackets among others.
Lucky Luciano did not like Guiseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria’s old style belief system of not trusting non-Sicilians and waging wars against people instead of working with these same people to make money. Soon Masseria was involved in a war with another Mafioso named Salvatore Maranzano and this was known as the Castellammarese War. It came to an end when Luciano could finally take no more of Masseria and had him killed. Charles Luciano led him to a restaurant in Coney Island to have lunch with him. When Luciano excused himself to go to the bathroom, four gunmen came into the restaurant and killed Masseria. The gunmen were reportedly Vito Genovese, Ben Siegel, Albert Anastasia and Joe Adonis.
This made Salvatore Maranzano, the “victor” of the bloody war and he brought Luciano aboard his family. However, Maranzano soon came to distrusting Lucky Luciano as he thought Luciano had his own agenda. Maranzano wanted Luciano killed. He then hired a man named Mad Dog Coll to kill Luciano during or shortly after a meeting that he was going to have with Luciano. Lucky Luciano got wind of this and sent four men to Maranzano’s office, under the guise of being government agents and killed Maranzano by shooting and stabbing him. Coll never got the opportunity to kill Luciano and disappeared. With Maranzano gone now, Lucky Luciano unwittingly became the boss. He then used that to his advantage and made a business out of organized crime. He met with the bosses of the five families and organized them under one umbrella and became known as “The Commission”.
In 1936, Lucky Luciano was indicted on charges stemming from prostitution to extortion by special prosecutor and future governor of New York, Thomas Dewey. He was convicted and sentenced to thirty to fifty years in prison and was sent to Dannemora, New York to the Clinton prison. Then in 1942, the luxury ship the Normandie was blown up so Governor Dewey asked Luciano for his help by having the Longshoremen’s Union tighten up security around the harbor. The sabotages stopped and in 1946, he was deported back to Italy. From there, Luciano still controlled business and got into the illegal alien snuggling business as well. In 1962, Charles “Lucky” Luciano died of a heart attack and is buried in New York City.
Not many people know this but Luciano got the nickname “lucky” when he was a youth because he was able to say out of jail and not because of the attack by four men that left him nearly dead when he was older. Charles Luciano left an indelible mark on the crime syndicate known as the Mafia. An indelible mark that was never duplicated.