Gangsters are members of gangs or professional criminal organizations who are known for their involvement in the conduct of acts prohibited by law, especially assassination. For decades, these people have been active in several areas of the world particularly in Europe, Asia, United States and Latin America. Most of these gangsters have become infamous either because of the severity of crimes they committed in the past, the fashion through which they assassinated their victims, or because of the popularity of the people that they killed. Gangsters normally choose to become part of gangs as this provides them with a certain level of organization and support that they cannot get when they operate alone. Here is a list of the top 25 extremely notorious gangsters in history.
Irish American gangster Jack Diamond; more commonly known as Gentleman Jack, was a bootlegger whose operations were largely focused in Philadelphia. He was a close friend to another notorious gangster and gambler; Arnold Rothstein. As he oversaw bootleg alcohol sales in lower Manhattan, Diamond had a conflict with Dutch Schultz and the other gangs of the city. He also got involved in a series of kidnappings in Manhattan,including that of James Duncan. He died after being shot by his enemies in his hideout in Albany, New York.
A mobster based in New York, Tom Devaney was the man behind the drift between mobster Mickey Spillane and the Genovese crime family in the 1960’s and 70’s. He also led the gang war against James Coonan, an Irish American mobster and racketeer in Manhattan. George Barone, together with an alleged gunman named Joe “Mad Dog” Sullivan, murdered Tom Devany in Midtown Manhattan. With Devany’s death, Spillane’s operation would soon follow.
An Irish-American mobster and racketeer who used to operate in New York, Manhattan; James “Jimmy C” Coonan became a gangster after he decided to organize his own powerful crew of criminals to avenge for his father, who was kidnapped, beaten and killed by another well-known mobster in the 1960’s; Mickey Spillane. He was sentenced to be imprisoned for 75 years after he was proven guilty of murdering Harold Whitehead.
The man behind the infamous Indian organized crime syndicate dubbed as D-Company, Dawood Ibrahim currently heads a large, unlawful empire in India. He is believed to have masterminded, financed and organized the 1993 Bombay bombings, a series of 13 bomb explosions in Mumbai that left about 250 casualties in every attack. He used to have close links with the late Osama Bin Laden of Al Qaeda and is currently the most wanted man in India.
Reginald “Reggie” Kray and Ronald “Ronnie” Kray, were twin brothers and English gangsters who masterminded the series of organized crimes in East London. They were primarily involved in large-scale robberies, assaults, arson, protection rackets, as well as the murder of the notorious criminal from London, Jack “The Hat” McVitie. Though they were among the most feared gangsters of their time, the twins became US celebrities in the 1960’s.
Known as the Black Meech in several circles in Atlanta, Demetrius Flenory was among the two founders of the Black Mafia Family, a large drug trafficking organization that predominantly operated in Detroit, then expanded into Atlanta and Los Angeles. He was a convicted trafficker of cocaine throughout the United States for around two decades and was identified as among the highest-earning drug traffickers in the history of the country.
Mexican drug lord Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera led the Sinaloa Cartel, an organized crime syndicate and drug trafficking group that used to operate in Mexico. The cartel was also known then as the Guzman-Loera Organization, named after its leader. He has been one of the most powerful men of the world since 2009, with a net worth of about $1 billion. Forbes Magazine recently labelled him as “the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.”
Known as The Irishman, Irish American gangster James Burke was the head of the Luchesse crime family in the 1970’s and was accused of having been involved in the brutal murder of several people at the time. He is believed to have masterminded the Lufthansa heist, an extensive robbery that took place in the John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1978 which brought in around two million dollars to his account.
A gangster who reached the peak of his popularity during the Castellammarese War in the 1930’s, Vito Genovese was an Italian-American mobster who headed the Genovese crime family. He was mentor to the successor of the lead position of the crime family, Vincent Gigante. In 1931 during the war, he plotted to kill Salvatore Maranzano with the help of Luciano. He moved to Italy and prospered as he led the black market operations of a gambling empire.
A Polish gangster who was known as the Mob’s accountant, Meyer Lansky was among the organized crime figures who developed the National Crime Syndicate in the United States. He was among the most powerful and notorious gangsters of the 20th century and played a big role in the operations of the Italian Mafia. He developed and operated some of the largest gambling empires in the United States and masterminded the formation of the criminal underworld.
Known as the modern gangster of the modern French history, Jacques Mesrine was largely involved in several bank robberies, murders, kidnappings and burglaries in the United States, Canada and France during the 20th century. He was also known as The Man with a Thousand Faces because of his aptitude in disguises for each of his operations. He was imprisoned several times but was always able to escape, and even killed the judges who sentenced him.
A notorious gangster based in South Boston, James Whitey Bulger was a social bandit who operated much like Robin Hood. He dedicated his life to leading protection racket which he himself organized. Their purpose was to chase after 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 top 10 most wanted fugitives.
Nicknamed Joe Batters or Big Tuna, Anthony Accardo emerged from being a notorious hoodlum to being the head of crime syndicate known as the Chicago Outfit. The Chicago Mob increased in power and health during his tenure, as he expanded its operations throughout several territories in the United States. Months before his death, he killed three thieves who attempted to rob him by hanging them and cutting their throats open.
The founder of Murder Incorporated, Bugsy Siegel was an American mobster who headed the Genovese crime family. He was known for being one of the most feared gangsters of his time because of his ruthlessness to his associates. In the 1940’s he controlled and financed some of the original casinos in Las Vegas and became a bootlegger. He assassinated the Fabrizzo brothers and his rival loan sharks, the Amberg brothers.
A Sicilian mobster, Don Carlo Gambino was the head of the Gambino crime family. In 1957, he was also at the helm of the Commission of the American Mafia, an Italian-American criminal society that operated much like the Sicilian Mafia. He stood up against the Anastasia loyalists in the 1960’s and expanded his rackets to several parts of the United States, until he was able to control about 90% of the ports in New York and gained millions. His crime family was the most powerful in Manhattan back then.