CHARLES ‘LUCKY’ LUCIANO
Born Salvatore Lucania in Palermo, Sicily in 1897 he was brought to the United States in 1906. He grew up to become the infamous ‘Lucky’ Luciano, responsible for the creation of the modern Mafia in America.
Even early in his career he recognised the importance of forming an alliance with the powerful Jewish gangs of that era and with their help he carried out the vision of his previous boss. Salvatore Maranzano in cementing the concept of Organised Crime notwithstanding that it was Luciano himself that was responsible for the hit on Maranzano.
He gained his nickname following escape from certain death by surviving a kidnapping by rival gangsters. The scars left on his face were testament as to how ‘Lucky’ he was to get through that ordeal.
Luciano was the moving force behind the removal of old style Mafia Chiefs at the beginning of the 1930’s and at the age of thirty four stood unopposed as the Capo di Tutti Capi. a title he always hated but he was indeed the Boss of all Bosses.
Although Salvatore Maranzano originated the concept of the creation of gangs into Families responsible for the formation of the Five Mafia Families of New York in 1931, it was the talent and charisma of ‘Lucky’ Luciano that galvanised Organised Crime as a force that was to last into the next century.
It was inevitable that he would be a target for the law and in 1936 he was arrested and convicted for controlling prostitutes. Even though he protested his innocence saying that this was a dirty business that he would not get involved with, he was still sentenced to confinement for thirty to fifty years ending up at the bleak Danmora Penitentiary in Upstate New York. Still he was acknowledged as the true boss of the American Mafia notwithstanding imprisonment.
After the Second World War, Luciano was given credit for using his contacts with the Sicilian Mafia to allow the allied forces to free the Island from German occupation but his early release from prison in 1946 was conditional on being deported to Italy but even from across the ocean he was confident that his power and Influence over Organised Crime in the USA could continue.
In that same year he turned up in Cuba hoping to use the Island as a stepping-stone back into the United States but having Luciano in residence barely ninety miles off the coast of Florida did not appeal to the American Government one bit and the threat by Washington to withdraw medical supplies left Cuba with no option but to return the Boss of Bosses’ back to Italy.
Deprived of all power, he finally succumbed to a heart attack at Naples Airport in January 1962 and it was only in death that he was allowed back into the United States for his burial.