Al Capone, The Real 'Scarface'.

Essay by DeathByPancakeHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 2005

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The most well-known Mafia family in the United States was the Chicago family of Al "Scarface" Capone. The Mafia is one of America's most notorious illegal organized crime groups. The roots of the Chicago Mafia, spring from the worlds most well-known Mafia group, Sicilian Mafia. Law enforcement agencies first reported the existence of an American Mafia in 1891 in New Orleans, but it is believed they were actively operating for many years before that. In 1920 when Prohibition came into being, it offered Mafia members a grand opportunity to expand their operations and to make huge profits by selling bootlegged alcohol to millions of people who apparently didn't want to give up their liquor.

By the end of the 1920s, Al Capone "was said to be ruling the entire bootlegging business from Canada to Florida." Capone got his start in the Chicago area from feared underworld figure Johnny Torrio, an Italian immigrant who most likely was connected to the Sicilian mob.

In 1920 when Prohibition was still young, Torrio was inspired to take advantage of what he saw as an opportunity to make big money selling outlawed liquor. He as well had high hopes of controlling that business in Chicago. He just needed to get rid of the competition. He believed that a well-disciplined gang of men good with guns and fists could take care of rival bootleggers by intimidating them and by persuading speakeasy proprietors that life might not be comfortable for them unless they bought Torrio liquor. But Torrio needed someone to lead his men.

Torrio picked Alphonse Capone, a member of New York's notorious Five Points ring and the protégé of a friend of his, to do that job, offering Capone half of the profits of the bootleging trade and a good income if he would...