The word ‘gang’ originated from the old English ‘gan’; meaning ‘to go,’ used for the workers going on foot. ‘Gang’ is used for a group of workers in the U.K., but elsewhere it has a negative connotation. The earliest, documented use of the word ‘gangster’ is traceable to a newspaper in Columbus, Ohio in April, 1896. The prohibition of manufacturing, storage, transportation, or selling of alcoholic drinks in the time of the Great Depression gave rise to many social evils and the emergence of gangsters was one of them. A group of criminals having a common interest in committing a crime like killing, theft, robbery, gambling, drugs, tax evasion, and prostitution, etc.and having a common identity is known as a gangster. In the U.K., the word ‘gang’ was used in a positive connotation, especially for the railway workers. Nowadays, however, the word ‘gangster’ is used exclusively for the organized group of trouble creators and criminals.
1. Thug Behram
The historical Thugee gang leader, Thug Behram, was born in 1785 in India and was executed in 1840 at the age of 75. Personally, he killed 125 men and witnessed the killing of 150 men while the overall killing by Thug the gangster exceeded 930 people. The English word ‘thug’ is derived from Punjabi or Urdu ‘thugee’ meaning ‘deception.’ Thug Behram used a unique technique and strangled the victim by throwing a silky handkerchief with a coin tied to its one end while throwing it around the neck of the victim like cowboys do. The handkerchief wrapped around the neck was pulled till the victim strangled to death. Since the victim was usually a lone traveler and deceived to fall into the death trap, the technique was known as ‘thugee’ or ‘deprivation of life.’
2. Jesse James
Jessy Woodson James was born in Kearney, Clay County, Missouri, U.S. on September 5, 1847 and died at St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S. on April 3, 1882 at the young age of 34. He was a notorious robber. His father, Robert S.James, went to California during the Gold Rush and died there while Jesse was only three years old. On
December 7, 1869 he robbed Daviess County Savings Association for little money but killed the cashier. In 1869 he was publicly declared as an ‘outlaw’ when the Missouri Governor set a reward for his capture. Jesse James is known as murderer, bank robber, and train robber. He was killed at the hands of Robert Ford, an accomplice, who was a member of his gang that lived in his home with an intent to get the state reward on James’ head.
3. Enoch Johnson
Enoch Johnson was born to Smith E. and Virginia Johnson in Galloway Township, New Jersey, U.S. on January 20, 1883 and died in Northfield, New Jersey, U.S. on December 9, 1968 at 85. His nickname ‘Nucky’ was derived from ‘Enoch.’ His father was elected as sheriff of Atlantic County in 1886, and Nucky was elected as sheriff after the expiration of his father’s three years. He retained the position till 1911 when he was ousted by the orders of the court. He earned a lot of money through commissions he received for allowing illegal gambling and the production and selling of liquor. He was not the least ashamed of it and maintained his rhetoric, ‘We have whiskey, wine, women, song, and slot machines. I won’t deny it and I won’t apologize for it. If the majority of the people didn’t want them, they wouldn’t be profitable and they would not exist. The fact that they do exist proves to me that the people want them.’
4. Al Capone
Al Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, United States on January 17, 1899 and died in Palm Island, Florida, U.S. on January 25, 1947 at 48 years. Al Capone bossed a gangsters’ group known as the ‘Chicago Outfit.’ He was a criminal and racketeer. He was charged with tax evasion and kept behind bars in Alcatraz. He was the son of a poor farmer and inclined towards the world of crime to earn easy and quick money. He made many law enforcement enemies and criminal friends. He became an iconic, wealthy criminal arising from poverty. His misdeeds ultimately caused his death after a long term of imprisonment.
5. John Dillinger, Jr.
John Herbert Dillinger was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. on June 22, 1903 and died in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. in 1934 at the young age of 31. His father was a martinet, and it was probably on that account that Dillinger was found bullying children. He was arrested in a case of a petty theft and got his training from seasoned robbers behind bars. After serving four and one-half years in jail, he was released during the peak of the Great Depression. With almost no chances of getting employment, he reverted and robbed a bank in Bluffton, Ohio. Dillinger planned the escape of some prisoners who worked in the jail’s laundry. He smuggled rifles into the jail and killed two guards then released his prison friends. He formed a group known as ‘The First Dillinger Gang’ which was comprised of Harry Pete Pierpont, Russell Clark, Charles Makley, Edward W. Shouse, Jr., Harry Copeland, James’Oklahama Jack’ Clark, John Red Hamilton.
6. Bottoms Gang
The Bottoms Gang was founded by Frank Hussey and Anthony Foley in Saint Louis. The terror of this gang reigned over St. Louis, Missouri from 1905-1917. The gang was very cruel in its actions and included members who were Irish American, French Canadian, and of German origin. They had bitter contentions with the rival, larger gang, the Egan’s Rats Gang. They had gone to the extent of attacking the personnel of the St. Louis Police Department.
7. Anthony Accardo
Anthony Accardo was born to Francesco Accardo and Maria in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. on April 28, 1906. His birth name was Antonino Leonardo Accardo. His parents migrated from Sicily, Italy to the U.S. in 1890. Accardo headed the gangster group known as the ‘Outfit’ for 50 years. Starting as a delivery boy of a florist, he ended up as one of the most notorious gangsters of his time.
8 . Griselda Blanco
Griselda Blanco was born in Cartagena, Colombia in February, 1943. As a well-known drug trafficker, she was also known as ‘La Dama de la Mafia’ (The Mafia Lady), ‘The Godmother,’ and the ‘Black Widow.’ She has been sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment on the charges of drug trafficking.
9. Pablo Escobar
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was born in Rionegro, Antioquia Columbia on December 1, 1949 and died at Medellin, Columbia at the age of 44 years on December 2, 1993. He was a multidimensional criminal and was convicted for political corruption, murder, money laundering, bribery, terrorism, and smuggling. He was a Columbian drug king and cocaine dealer. He owned many luxurious residences, automobiles, and 15 planes and 6 helicopters. Many times he flew his plane by himself to smuggle goods. It was his childhood dream to become a millionaire prior to reaching 23 years of age.
10. Demetrius Felonry
Demetrius Felonry was born around 1968. His inmate locator Register# 13037-078 shows his Age-Race-Sex as 43-Black-M with the release date 02-25-2032. Felonry was one of the two cofounders of a drug distribution organization. The other founder member was his younger brother Terry ‘Southwest T’ Felonry. More than drug distribution, this Detroit-based drug trafficking organization was involved in cocaine distribution throughout the U.S. from 1990 to 2005. In the Atlanta circles, he was more widely known as ‘Big Meech’ and ‘Black Mafia Family’ (BMF). Felonry was known as the ‘Black Drug Lord’ and became the wealthiest American gangster leader.
Other than human beings, chipanzees are the only animals known to plan murder. There are other animals that are hunters and may be described as such like carnivores and birds of prey. However, all living beings, including human beings, have the instinct to grab and fight for which they form groups like a pack of wolves, a school of fish, and a ‘push’ of rhinos. A group of evil-doing human beings is similarly a gang comprising uneducated, illiterate, or perhaps over-privileged criminals.