Murder, Inc.

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For other uses, see Murder, Inc. (disambiguation).

Murder, Inc., as it was called by the press, was a chapter of a so-called National Crime Syndicate in the USA. It was essentially an enforcement arm that specialized in contract killing. It operated from the end of Prohibition until the 1950s.

Murder, Inc. was established in New York and initially led by Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Meyer Lansky, who also supplied the first killers from their gangs of Jewish and Italian gangsters in Brooklyn, New York. Later it was controlled by Louis Buchalter and Albert Anastasia. They reported to higher Syndicate bosses.

Most of the killers were recruited from the gangs of the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Ocean Hill, Brownsville and East New York. They accepted murder contracts from mob bosses all around the United States.

The Murder, Inc. idea was based on the fact that killers would be strangers to the city, and sometimes even their victims, and therefore harder to trace. Police would concentrate on local suspects when killers were already en route to their hometowns. They killed quickly and effectively with numerous methods. Practically all the targets were informants or gang members who had embezzled mob money.

The killers were paid a regular salary, plus an average fee of $1000–$5000 per killing. Their families also received monetary benefits. If they were caught, the mob would supply the best lawyers.

Murder, Inc.'s killers included Frank Abbandando, Louis Capone, Martin Goldstein, Seymour Magoon, Harry Maione, Abe Reles, Harry Strauss and Albert Tannenbaum.

In 1932, Abe Wagner informed on the syndicate to the police. He fled to Saint Paul, Minnesota and adopted a disguise to evade possible pursuit. Two killers, George Young and Joseph Schafer, found and shot him but were later apprehended. Bugsy Siegel failed to get them released.

One of the more famous victims was gang boss Dutch Schultz, who had defied the syndicate. Mendy Weiss, Charles Workman, and an unidentified gunman named "Piggy" shot Schultz and his associates Otto Berman, Abe Landau, and Lulu Rosenkrantz on October 23, 1935, in a Newark diner named the Palace Chop House.

In the 1930s, Louis Buchalter used Murder, Inc. to murder witnesses and suspected informants when he was investigated by district attorney Thomas E. Dewey. In one case four killers hacked loan shark George Rudnick to pieces for the mere suspicion of being an informant, on May 11, 1937. On October 1, 1937, they seriously wounded Buchalter's ex-associate Max Rubin.

In the 1940s, Murder, Inc. employee Harry Rudolph was framed for murder and sentenced to Rikers Island. He decided to talk to district attorney Burton B. Turkus. Turkus arrested Abe Reles, Martin Goldstein and Dukey Maffetore upon his information. When Reles and Maffetore learned that they had become the next targets lest they talk, they became informants. Allie Tannenbaum, arrested later, also decided to talk.

Abe Reles was promised immunity from prosecution. He informed on many killers, including Abbandando, Maione and Strauss and described many of his own murders in court. The Syndicate promised a $100,000 reward for his death. Reles fell to his death from a guarded hotel room at Half Moon Hotel in Coney Island on November 12, 1941.

Louis Buchalter was executed at Sing Sing in Ossining, New York on March 4, 1944.

Murder, Inc. vanished in a couple of years. Most members were sent to the electric chair. The Mafia switched to murder deals arranged between individual gang bosses.

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