Throughout American history there have been many individuals that have contributed to the backbone and tapestry of this country. Through this class, I have learned more about many of those individuals, their lives and contributions that, consequently, has sparked my interest about history again. There are so many historically influential people that I could choose from, the possibilities are endless. There is, however, one individual that I came across as we studied World War II. I haven’t chosen this person for their inspiring qualities or outstanding integrity, but rather for his intriguing roll in history that proved to be invaluable to the western allies and the winning of World War II in Italy.
Charlie "Lucky" Luciano was a man revered in the New York and Italian organized crime world. Lucky Luciano was born in Sicily, Italy, November 24, 1897 and was a naturalized American mobster. Lucky Luciano is most notably known as the father of organized crime in the United States and he was the first official boss of the modern Genovese crime family. Lucky Luciano mainly had his beginnings during the Prohibition. He started a bootlegging operation that increased in size very rapidly to the point of making 12 million dollars per year. He organized his dealings through many crime “families” to keep the political costs down of bribing officials and police as to protect his shipments. By this time Lucky Luciano had been involved in criminal rackets such as gambling, bookmaking, loan-sharking, drug trafficking and extortion. With his command of mob associates, they took down the old hierchy of mob leaders one by one. Murder throughout the organized crime world shook all the crime families at the time. Later Lucky Luciano was thrown in jail and indicted for prostitution rings and heading up these large crime families. During war time the docks in New York were controlled by Luciano’s people as they worked incognito amongst the dockworkers. As a result, multiple ships for troop transport were burned and sunk at the docks. Consequently, the war effort at the time could not afford more lost ships from dock worker sabotage on the home-front. US Naval intelligence knew that Lucky Luciano kept very strong ties and connections to the Sicilian and Italian Mafia. Later, the fascist regime led by Benito Mussolini tried to eradicate the Italian Mafia in order to control all the power in Italy. The United States Government struck a series of secret deals with Luciano while he was still in prison. Instantly the docks were controlled and there were no more incidences of ship burning and sinking. Through Luciano’s connections to the Sicilian and Italian mafia the United States was able to get valuable intelligence for the safe passage of US forces in the Italian Campaign. Furthermore US intelligence was able to get very detailed information of targets, passages troop movement to make the war in Italy very successful and bring down Benito Mussolini and single handedly help the win of the World War II in Italy.
As I mentioned previously, I found it intriguing that Luciano played such a critical role in our winning World War II in Italy despite the fact that his character left many things to be desired. It’s also intriguing to me that the United States utilized a criminal to secure intelligence about Italy to help gain momentum in their war campaign against Italy.