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The Five Points is to Organized Crime as Plymouth Rock is to America. From the worst slum in New York City springs a steady stream of Irish thugs, Jewish racketeers and Italian hit men who would make organized crime a permanent part of the American scene. It started in the 1800s when, driven by the Irish potato famine, millions of immigrants came to America, most settling in the worst part of New York City - the Five Points. With no money and few prospects, many Irishmen turned to crime. Colorfully named gangs such as žThe Dead Rabbit GangÓ and the žPug UgliesÓ battled žThe Bowery BoysÓ and other hoods for control of the streets. The Irish gangs also went to work for New YorkŪs corrupt government, Tammany Hall. In the 1863 draft riots, Five Points gangs were involved in violence that left New York burning for five days and more than 2,000 dead. By the early 20th century, Jewish organized crime arrived, transforming the concept of gangs from Irish bully boys who ran illegal gambling to mixed-ethnicity enforcers with links to the legitimate business world. Italians next bread the most dominant group in American crime, from Al Capone and Lucky Luciano to Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel. Prohibition elevated their power through bootlegging. Luciano reinvented American organized crime into the Mafia that we know today.
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