Gangsters are members of gangs or professional criminal organizations that are known for their involvement in the commission of acts prohibited by law, especially murder.
For many decades, these people have been active in several areas of the world, such as Europe, Asia, the United States and Latin America. Many of these thugs have gained notoriety, for the large number of murders they have committed in the past, the way they killed their victims, or the importance of the people they killed. These gangsters choose to join gangs because it provides them with support that they don't have when operating alone.
This is the list of the 30 most notorious gangsters in history.
30. Jack Diamond
American-Irish gangster Jack Diamond, better known as "Gentleman Jack", was a smuggler whose operations were mainly focused in Philadelphia. He was close friends with another notorious gangster and poker player, Arnold Rothstein. While he oversaw alcohol sales in Manhattan, Diamond had a conflict with Dutch Schultz and other city gangs. He was involved in a series of kidnappings in Manhattan. Diamond died after being shot by his enemies on the way out of New York.
29. Tom Devaney
A New York based criminal, Tom Devaney was an important figure for the Genovese crime family in the 60's and 70's. He also led the fight against the gang of James Coonan, an Irish-American criminal in Manhattan. George Barone, along with Joe Sullivan, killed Tom Devany in midtown Manhattan. Upon his death, it was Mickey Spillane who would take the lead.
28. James Coonan
An Irish-American criminal who operated in New York, Manhattan, "Jimmy C" became a gangster after he decided to organize his own crime squad to take over his father, who was kidnapped and killed by the notorious criminal in the 60s. ', Mickey Spillane. He was sentenced to 75 years in prison after evidence was found that he was guilty of murdering Harold Whitehead.
27. Dawood Ibrahim
The man behind the Indian organized crime syndicate known as "D-Company", Dawood Ibrahim heads a huge illegal empire in India. He is believed to have organized and financed the 1993 Bombay bombings, a series of 13 blasts that killed 250 each. He had close links with Al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden and is currently India's most wanted man.
26. The Kray Brothers
Reginald Kray and Ronald Kray, were twin brothers and English gangsters who organized a series of crimes in East London. Initially, they were involved in numerous robberies, attacks, as well as in the murder of the well-known criminal in London, Jack McVitie. Although they were the most feared criminals of their time, the twins became very famous people in the USA in the 60's.
25. Demetrius Flenory
Known as "Black Meech" in some Atlanta circles, Demetrius Flenory was one of the founders of the Black Mafia Family, a large drug trafficking organization that primarily operated in Detroit and later expanded to Atlanta and Los Angeles. He was a convicted cocaine trafficker in the US for two decades and was identified as one of the most profitable traffickers in the country's history.
24. Joaquin Guzman
Mexican drug lord Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera headed the Sinaloa Cartel, an organized crime syndicate and drug trafficking group operating in Mexico. The cartel was then also known as "Organizata Guzman", i.e. with the last name of its leader. Before his arrest, he was one of the most powerful people in the world as of 2009, with a net worth of $1 billion. Forbes magazine labeled him the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.
23. James Burke
Known as "The Irishman", American-Irish gangster James Burke was the head of the Luchesse crime family in the 1970s and was accused of involvement in the brutal murder of a large number of people. He is believed to have masterminded a major robbery at John Kennedy International Airport in 1978 that netted him $2 million.
22. Vito Genovese
A gangster who reached the height of his popularity during the Castellammarese War in 1930, Vito Genovese was an Italian-American criminal who headed the Genovese mafia family. He mentored his successor in the leadership of the family, Vincent Gigante. In 1931 during the war, he plotted the assassination of Salvatore Maranzano with the help of Luciano. He moved to Italy and ran the black market operations of a gambling empire.
21. Meyer Lansky
The Polish gangster who is known as the accountant of the criminal organization, Meyer Lensky was one of the main organized crime figures who developed the National Crime Syndicate in the USA. He was one of the most powerful and notorious gangsters of the 20th century and played a major role in the operations of the Italian Mafia. He developed and operated some of the largest gambling empires in the US.
20. Jacques Mesrine
Known as the modern criminal of modern French history, Jacques Mesrine was involved in a large number of bank robberies, murders, kidnappings in the USA, Canada and France during the 20th century. He was also known as the "Man of 1000 Faces" due to the change of the face in every operation. He was imprisoned several times but he always managed to escape, even killing the judges who sentenced him.
19. James Whitey Bulger
A notorious gangster based in South Boston, James Whitney Bulger was a social outlaw who operated somewhat like Robin Hood. He dedicated his life to protecting organized crime. His goal was to hunt down and kill drug lords and illegal gamblers. In 2011, he was arrested for his involvement in a conspiracy to commit identity fraud and was one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted.
18. Anthony Accardo
Nicknamed Joe Batters or Big Tuna, Anthony Accardo went from being a known vagabond to becoming the head of a Chicago crime syndicate. This criminal organization grew in power during his tenure, expanded operations in several territories in the United States of America. A few months before his death, he killed three thieves who tried to rob him. Anthony hanged them, and cut their throats.
17. Bugsy Siegel
Bugsy Siegel was an American criminal who led the Genovese mafia family. He is known as one of the most feared gangsters of his time, due to the atrocities he committed against his associates. In 1940 he controlled and financed several casinos in Las Vegas and became a bootlegger. Bugsy killed the Fabrizzo brothers and his credit rivals, the Amberg brothers.
16. Carlo Gambino
Sicilian mobster Don Carlo Gambino was the head of the notorious Gambino mafia family. In 1957, he also headed the American Mafia Commission, an Italian-American criminal organization that operated similarly to the Sicilian Mafia. He rose up against the Anastasia group in the 60s and expanded his power in several parts of the United States until he managed to control 90% of the ports in New York making millions. His crime family was the most powerful at that time in Manhattan.
15. John Dillinger
During his life, John Dillinger was involved in several different crimes. Among them the robbery of 25 banks and police districts in the United States. He was also involved in the murder of several people in East Chicago, Indiana. Dillinger rose to prominence during the Great Depression in the US, and was considered the most notorious of all criminals in the country. He organized crime and went head-to-head with the FBI.
14. Bernardo Provenzano
For 40 years in a row, he has been the mysterious capo of "Cosa Nostra". Bernardo Provenzano, or the so-called "zu Binnu", but also known by the nickname "u trattur", super boss as well as the longest-lived leader in the history of the mafia, was arrested a few years ago by the Italian police. His face for nearly a decade for justice has been like a ghost. After the arrest of Toto Rina, in January 1993, Provenzano received the task of directing "Cosa Nostra". He was regarded as one of the most intelligent mobsters the mafia has ever had.
13. Frank Costello
Known as "The Prime Minister", Frank Costello was a crime boss and an Italian criminal known for his popularity as one of the leaders of the most dangerous criminal groups in the US, especially in New York. He also fronted the East Side Band in Manhattan while working for several other popular bands. Costello, along with Luciano, became part of the great Sicilian Mafia Family and were involved in rum production operations.
12. Joseph Bonanno
Born in 1905, Bonanno grew up in his native Sicily and was orphaned when he was 15. He left Italy at the time of Mussolini's rise to power and made a short stay in Cuba, before arriving in the USA at the age of 19. He joined the mafia as a way to fight Mussolini. His nickname was Joey Bananas. He teamed up with Salvatore Maranzano. Bonanno became the head of one of the mafia families. He expanded his legitimate business with many cheese dairies, clothing factories and funeral enterprises. The latter was the perfect way to dispose of enemy corpses. But plans to eliminate other rival families backfired and Bonanno was held hostage for 19 days until he agreed to retire and give up the Mafia.
11. Arnold Rothstein
A businessman and gambler, the American gangster Arnold Rothstein was the organizer of corruption in the sports world, especially in fixing the matches of the World Baseball Championship in 1919. Known as "The Brain" Rothstein was also the father of one of the Jewish criminal groups in New York . He founded a casino and was also involved in the world of smuggling.
10. Semyon Mogilevich
Called "Mr. Wisdom" (he has an Economics degree), the mafia gangster is the head of organized crime in Ukraine; and who is believed by international agencies to be the "boss of bosses" of the Russian mafia in the world. He was involved in everything from a Pennsylvania-based company defrauding Eastern European investors of a $150 million gas deal. His crimes also include murder, arms dealing and drug trafficking. He is believed to have ordered the killing of many of his opponents in the world. Mogilevich was arrested in Moscow in 2008 for tax evasion; but thanks to his cleverness and cunning he managed to get released the following year.
9. Jesse Woodson
A gang leader who was involved in several bank robberies, train robberies and murders, Jesse Woodson was the most famous gang member to bear his name in the 19th century. During the Civil War he was compared to a modern day Robin Hood. Jesse is believed to have been actively involved in many atrocities committed against Union soldiers during the Civil War.
8. Enoch Johnson
Known as the leader of the political machine that ruled the government of Atlantic City, New Jersey, Enoch Lewis Johnson began to increase his power when he was elected sheriff of the Mexican Committee of the Republic of Atlantic City. He led a notorious organization involved in prostitution and gambling and was the industry's lawyer in the United States.
7. Lucky Luciano
An American criminal, Lucky Luciano is known as the father of modern organized crime in the USA, and was responsible for dividing the country into 5 major mafia families. He is also known as the founder of the Commission in the United States of America and was the head of the Genovese mafia family. Americans know him today as the founder of the National Crime Syndicate in the USA. He was arrested and sentenced to 30-50 years in prison, but then extradited to Italy in 1936. He was so powerful that US military intelligence, when the US military entered Italy during World War II, sought his help. He died of a heart attack in 1962
6. Salvatore Rina
Sicilian mobster Salvatore Rina was arrested in January 1993 for crimes committed over 20 years as the boss of the Sicilian mafia. He was wanted for the murders of more than 100 people committed while climbing the criminal career ladder. Known as "Toto", he is said to have started his career as a contract killer. He escaped in 1969 after being accused of triple murder. But this did not stop him from continuing the criminal activity and the mafia wars in Sicily in the 1980s, where thousands of people lost their lives, and managed to establish himself at the head of the organization. Rina was sentenced to life imprisonment; the most severe sentence given in Italy. He is considered the biggest mobster in the history of the Italian Cosa Nostra.
5. Ksie Kajping
You've probably heard of The Godfather. Now you can meet the Godfather. In Kongkuing, a large city in China with a population of approximately 30 million, Xie Kaiping strongly influenced the country for many years. A Beijing anti-crime operation against the mafia in Kongkueng in 2009 showed how Ksie had, for years, run illegal gambling deals while maintaining ties to local police and government officials. She owned numerous luxury cars and villas and was proud of her harem of 16 young men. Ksie, 46, who looks more like a head nurse than a female criminal, was eventually sentenced to 18 years in prison. Stories about her power and strength became part of numerous media programs.
4. John Gotti
He is widely regarded as the ultimate Hollywood-style criminal, a man who would walk into the courtroom and walk out again, innocent. The "God of Fashion" was the crime boss of the Gambino family in the mid-1980s, and soon became known as the "Lord of the Resistance" because of his ability to avoid prison. Accusations, the common people said, did not solve anything in his case. That was until the FBI uncovered a crusade organized by Goth, leading to his arrest and charges for various crimes, including smuggling and murder. He was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992 and remained in prison until the day of his death from cancer a decade later.
3. Al Capone
Better known as "The Man with the Sign", Al Capone was an American gangster who dedicated his life to bootlegging and prostitution. At a very young age, he became a member of a gang in New York and engaged in various illegal activities. Known for his extraordinary intelligence, his desire to be famous, he was also known as an extremely dangerous and extremely violent person. Orchestrating the St. Valentine massacre in 1929, in which hundreds of rival mobsters were killed, proves this trait of his. A few years before he died, he headed a major crime syndicate and was imprisoned on charges of tax evasion.
2. Griselda Blanco
Known as the "Godmother of Cocaine," Griselda Blanco is a pioneer of Miami's largest drug trade. She spent her childhood and adolescence as a pickpocket and prostitute. When she grew up, she was indicted on drug conspiracy charges and sentenced to 10 years. Inside a Miami prison, she continued to run her cocaine business with the help of undercover members.
1. Pablo Escobar
Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar controlled several drug empires and killed thousands of people around the world. He led one of the most powerful and feared criminal organizations in history. Pablo wielded power over several mansions, airlines, and gangs of soldiers and criminals. He hired several hitmen to kill police officers who pursued him and paid them millions. The crime rate in Colombia increased significantly during his time.