While a teenager, he started his own gang. Unlike the other street gangs whose business was to pickpocket, mug, and steal, Lucania decided to offer protection to the Jewish kidswho were always picked on by Italian and Irish kids. He would charge ten cents per week for each kid.
By the age of 20, he was well integrated into the crime scene in the Lower East Side, beinginvolved in theft, extortion, and drug trafficking (for which he served a six-month prison term in 1916). He also became life-long friends with Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky.
OnJanuary 17, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The Amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages. Prohibition remained in forceuntil its repeal in 1933. This gave every gangster on the street a new source of revenue through illegal alcohol sales. Around this time, Luciano worked for Arnold Rothstein.
Luciano had plans to expandhis territory and expand his profits by collaborating with other gangsters to cut down the cost of political protection and reduce the likelihood of hijacked shipments. But Joe "The Boss" Masseriaforbade Luciano to do this.
By 1921, Luciano had met many Mafia heavyweights, including Vito Genovese and Frank Costello, his longtime friend, business partner, and eventually Sottocapo through hisinvolvement in the Five Points Gang. Together they began a bootlegging operation.
By 1925, Luciano was grossing over $12 million a year; however, he was netting much less each year due to the high...