Meet The Top 20 Infamous Mobsters and Gangsters in History

June 21, 2024 0 Posted By Abigail Anderson

Throughout history, organized crime has been shaped by notorious mobsters and gangsters whose illicit activities and larger-than-life personas have left a lasting mark on society. From the early 20th century Prohibition era to the modern-day underworld, these infamous figures have fascinated the public’s imagination and inspired countless books, movies, and television shows.

Here is an introduction to the top 20 infamous mobsters and gangsters in history, individuals synonymous with crime, power, and infamy. Their stories, often marked by violence, betrayal, and immense wealth, provide a glimpse into the shadowy world of organized crime, highlighting both their criminal exploits and their enduring impact on popular culture and law enforcement.

Some of these notorious figures include Al Capone, who rose to power during the Prohibition era and became one of the most ruthless and powerful mob bosses in history, and Pablo Escobar, who became one of the wealthiest and most feared drug lords in Colombia. These figures, along with many others, have left a lasting impact on the criminal underworld and continue to fascinate people worldwide.

1. Al Capone

Al Capone, an infamous American gangster, rose to power during the Prohibition era of the 1920s. He made millions through bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution. Known as “Scarface” due to a facial scar, Capone‘s reign ended when he was convicted of tax evasion in 1931 and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

2. Pablo Escobar

Pablo Escobar was a Colombian drug lord and leader of the Medellín Cartel, responsible for the majority of the cocaine trade in the 1980s. Despite his criminal activities, Escobar was known for his charitable acts and support for his community. He was killed in a shootout with Colombian authorities in 1993.

3. Griselda Blanco

Griselda Blanco, known as the “Godmother of Cocaine,” was a major figure in the Medellín Cartel. Responsible for trafficking tons of cocaine into the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, Blanco was linked to hundreds of murders. She was eventually arrested and sentenced to prison, dying in 2012.

4. John Dillinger

John Dillinger was an infamous American gangster during the Great Depression, known for his bank robberies and daring escapes from prison. He was Public Enemy No. 1 for the FBI, and his exploits intrigued the public. Dillinger was killed by FBI agents in a shootout outside a theatre in 1934.

5. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is a notorious Mexican drug lord and leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Responsible for smuggling large amounts of drugs into the United States, Guzman was eventually captured and convicted on multiple charges related to drug trafficking, money laundering, and murder. He is currently serving a life sentence.

6. Bugsy Siegel

Bugsy Siegel was an American mobster and one of the most feared gangsters of the 20th century. Involved in bootlegging, gambling, and murder, Siegel was a founder of the infamous “Murder, Inc.” gang. He was murdered in 1947, allegedly by other mafia members.

7. Meyer Lansky

Meyer Lansky was a notorious Jewish-American mobster and an influential figure in organized crime during the early 20th century. A founder and leader of the “National Crime Syndicate,” Lansky was involved in illegal gambling, bootlegging, and money laundering. Despite multiple arrests, he evaded conviction for most of his activities.

8. Lucky Luciano

Lucky Luciano, known as the “Father of Organized Crime,” was an Italian-American mobster who played a major role in developing the American Mafia. He was a key figure in illegal gambling, bootlegging, and drug trafficking operations that dominated organized crime in the U.S. during the first half of the 20th century.

9. Frank Costello

Frank Costello was an Irish-American organized crime boss operating in New York City during the mid-20th century. Known for his ruthless tactics and control over various criminal organizations, Costello had close ties to politicians, allowing him to avoid prosecution for many years. He was eventually convicted on tax evasion charges.

10. John Gotti

John Gotti, also known as the “Teflon Don,” was an infamous American mobster and boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City. Rising to power in the 1980s, Gotti became one of the most powerful and feared mafia bosses. He was eventually arrested and convicted in 1992, dying in prison in 2002.

11. Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger was a notorious Boston crime boss who rose to power in the 1970s and controlled organized crime in the city for decades. Known for his brutal tactics and connections with the FBI, Bulger evaded capture for many years before being apprehended in 2011 and sentenced to life in prison.

12. Carlo Gambino

Carlo Gambino was a notorious Italian-American mobster and boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City. Known for his ruthlessness, Gambino expanded the reach and power of his family during his over 20-year reign. His legacy and notoriety still live on.

13. Stephanie St. Clair

Stephanie St. Clair was a formidable leader in organized crime in Harlem during the 1920s. Despite the challenges she faced as a black woman, she built a powerful criminal empire that also protected and supported her community. St. Clair‘s resistance against the Mafia and advocacy for civil rights continues to inspire and empower others.

14. Sammy “The Bull” Gravano

Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, a former underboss of the Gambino crime family, became a government informant and helped bring down the infamous mob boss John Gotti. Known for his involvement in numerous murders and other illegal activities, Gravano played a significant role in the New York City underworld.

15. Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde, made up of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, were notorious American criminals who operated during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Known for their daring, often violent robberies, the couple’s criminal spree ended in a fatal shootout with law enforcement, cementing their place in American folklore.

16. Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson

Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson was a notorious American mob boss in Harlem during the early to mid-20th century. Involved in gambling, racketeering, and drug trafficking, he was also known for his charisma and generosity, often providing for his community. His life and legacy have been portrayed in various media, including films and television series.

17. Dutch Schultz

Dutch Schultz was a notorious American gangster in the 1920s and 1930s, involved in bootlegging, gambling, and organized crime. Schultz was also prominent in New York City, known for his charitable donations and flashy lifestyle. He was ultimately assassinated in 1935 by members of the Mafia, ending his reign as one of the most feared gangsters of his time.

18. Jesse James

Jesse James was an American outlaw and gang leader during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known for his train and bank robberies, his gang became one of the most famous in American history. Despite his criminal activities, James was seen by some as a Robin Hood-like figure, and his legend has been romanticized in books, films, and folk songs.

19. Frank Lucas

Frank Lucas gained notoriety for his ruthless tactics and extravagant lifestyle, often flaunting his wealth and power. His reign as a drug lord eventually ended with his arrest and conviction for drug trafficking. Lucas‘ story continues to fascinate and inspire, as depicted in the popular film “American Gangster.”

20. Vito Genovese

Vito Genovese was a notorious mobster who played a major role in the American Mafia during the 20th century. Known for his ruthless tactics, he was a key figure in developing the National Crime Syndicate in the United States. His name is still synonymous with the Genovese crime family, one of the country’s most powerful and influential criminal organizations.

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