Charles Luciano - Rise To Power

Rise To Power

Luciano soon became a top aide in the Masseria organization. In contrast to Arnold Rothstein, Masseria was an uneducated man with poor manners and limited management skills. By the late 1920s, Masseria's main rival was boss Salvatore Maranzano, who had come from Sicily to run the Castellammarese clan activities. This rivalry eventually escalated into the Castellammarese War, which raged from 1928 to 1931 and resulted in 60 mobster deaths.

Masseria and Maranzano were so-called "Mustache Petes", older, traditional mafia bosses who had started their criminal careers in Italy. They believed in upholding the supposed Old World Mafia principles of "honor", "tradition", "respect", and "dignity". These bosses refused to work with anyone who was not Italian or Italian-American, and were even skeptical of any man who was not Sicilian or Sicilian-American. Some bosses only worked with men from their Sicilian home village. Luciano, in contrast, was willing to work with Jewish and Irish gangsters if there was money to be made. For this reason, he was shocked to hear traditional Sicilian mafiosi lecture him about his dealings with close friend Frank Costello, whom they called "the dirty Calabrian".

Luciano soon began cultivating ties with other younger mobsters who had begun their criminal careers in the United States. Known as the Young Turks, they chafed at their bosses' conservatism. Luciano wanted to use lessons he learned from Rothstein to turn their gang activities into criminal empires. As the war progressed, this group came to include future mob leaders such as Frank Costello, Vito Genovese, Albert Anastasia, Joe Adonis, Joe Bonanno, Carlo Gambino, Joe Profaci, Tommy Gagliano, and Tommy Lucchese. The Young Turks believed that their bosses' greed and conservatism were keeping them poor while the Irish and Jewish gangs got rich. Luciano's vision was to form a national crime syndicate in which the Italian, Jewish, and Irish gangs could pool their resources and turn organized crime into a lucrative business for all.

In October 1929, Luciano was forced into a limousine at gun point by three men, beaten and stabbed, and dumped on a beach on Staten Island. He somehow survived the ordeal but was forever marked with a scar and droopy eye. The identity of his abductors was never established. When picked up by the police after the beating, Luciano said that he had no idea who did it. However, in 1953, Luciano told an interviewer that it was the police who kidnapped and beat him. Another story was that Maranzano ordered the attack. Other stories cited a jealous boyfriend and robbers. The most important consequence of this episode was the press coverage it engendered, introducing Luciano to the New York public.

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