Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

BLACK GANGS OF HARLEM : 1920-1939

Tammany Hall and The Mob

Tammany Hall
Tammany Hall
 

It was not uncommon in the early 1920s for very few arrests to be made by the police for operating illegal numbers games. By early 1928, the numbers games operations had grown and become more profitable. Arrests increased by leaps and bounds and police on the take (receiving graft) in Harlem, began to report the numbers games large profits to certain corrupt superiors. In turn, these superior officers would pass the information on to certain corrupt politicians in New York Citys Tammany Hall. These corrupt, elected officials had strong ties with white gangsters who ran the Mobs syndicate.

Corruption ran throughout New Yorks law enforcement, legal and political systems, including bondsmen, high-ranking police officials, judges, lawyers and politicians. Kickbacks, known as graft, for protection was already being paid by Harlems nightclubs, businesses, bars, pimps, whores, gamblers, bankers and numbers runners. But now everybody wanted a piece of the numbers game action and the action was getting bigger. Harlems numbers racket no longer was seen as a small-change operation.

James "Jimmy" Hines
James "Jimmy" Hines
 

James J. Hines, a Democratic Party boss in Manhattan, was a powerful figure who had strong ties in Tammany Hall and with mobster, Dutch Schultz. Schultz had grown powerful through taking advantage of Prohibition by controlling all beer and liquor production and distribution in Harlem. He was called the Beer Baron. When Jimmy Hines informed Schultz about Harlems numbers rackets profitability, Schultz and his fellow Murder Incorporated gangsters, Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Owney Madden, Bugsy Siegel, Joe Adonis and Meyer Lansky, began a rapid takeover campaign.

Dutch Schultz
Dutch Schultz
 

On Black Tuesday on October 29, 1929, America plunged into what became known as The Great Depression. New Yorks gangsters saw the Harlem numbers rackets as a quick way to compensate for lost revenues in their other vices and a way to compliment the profits from their bootlegging industry.

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