Organized crime has existed in the United States and other parts of the world for so many years. Organized crime has been a great bother to the security agencies for so many years due to the level of criminal activities these criminal gangs commit against the public. Organized crimes are criminal activities which are systematic and are carried out by experienced criminal gangs with the aim of making profit or gaining economically. Criminal gangs involved in such crimes may operate within a city, a state or can be involved in international crimes. The operations of the criminal gang are kept as top secret among the members and they mainly use word of mouth only as a means of communication. One of the most organized criminal gangs in the United States is the Irish mob. The prohibition era which is the period between late 1910s and early 1930s resulted into an increase in the number of organized criminal gangs in the United States. This was as a result of the government attempts to enforce prohibition. In the United States, the act of involving in organized criminal activities in a criminal gang is referred to as racketeering.
Irish mob
    The Irish mob has existed in the United States from the beginning of the 19th century making it one of the oldest criminal gangs. It originated from a group of Irish Americans who had a criminal gang known as the Irish American Street Gangs as celebrated by Herbert Asbury in his book, The Gang of New York. This criminal gang has committed major crimes in many parts of the United States such as New York, Chicago, and Boston among others. Moreover, the criminal gang has been reported to have committed crime outside the United States such as in Canada, England and Ireland.
    The activities of Irish mob in Boston are well known throughout the United States especially in areas which were dominated by the Irish Americans such as South Boston, Somerville and Roxbury. Due to the high number of Irish Americans in these regions, the first groups of Irish organized criminal groups started in these regions during the prohibition era in the early 20th century. The Gustin Gang which was led by Frank Wallace controlled the underworld activities in the whole of Boston until he was killed by the Italian gangsters in 1931. Between 1920s and the mid 20th century, Boston experienced many incidences of organized criminals wars which were mainly between the different Irish gangs who wanted to gain control over the underworld. The result of these wars was a reduction in the number of Irish gangs in the mid 20th century.
    The Winter Hill Gang, an Irish criminal gang operating in Boston is considered to be one of the most flourishing criminal gangs in the United States history. It took over the control of the underworld in Boston in the 1960s and controlled it for more than three decades. It was founded in Somerville in Massachusetts where the first boss James Mclean came from and thus the name Winter Hill. The Winter Hill Gang was associated with many organized criminal activities in the area for several decades up to the mid 1990s. Moreover, they were involved in other underworld activities and are believed to be the group responsible for the wide spread horse race fixing especially in the northeastern parts of the US.  In 1979, twenty one members of Winter Hill Gang and acquaintances which included Howie Winter were accused by the government prosecutor for organized criminal activities. The leadership of the gang was taken over by James Bugler and Stephen Flemmi who had an Irish origin (McIver, 2008).
    In the 1960s, there were many conflicts between the dominant Irish mobs in Massachusetts. The two criminal gangs were the Winter Hill Gang and Charlestown Mob from Somerville and Boston respectively. The Winter Hill Gang was led by James Mclean while the Charlestown was led by the Irish brothers Bernard and Edward. It is believed that the war was triggered by a woman whom associates of the criminal gangs were fighting for resulting into a rivalry between the two criminal gangs. The war was as a result of revenge for members of one gang who had been assaulted or killed by the other gang. The result of the war was wiping out the Charlestown mob when all its leaders were killed by the rival group. Those who survived the war, such as George McLaughlin were convicted and sent to prison for being involved in criminal activities. The other members of the Charlestown mob joined the winter hill gang which took the control of the underworld until the mid 1990s.
    Since as early as the 19th century, the New York underworld has been controlled by numerous and powerful Irish criminal gangs such as the Dead Rabbits and the Forty Thieves. These Irish criminal groups existed before other criminal gangs such as the Italian Gangsters and the Jewish Mafias started developing and competing for dominance in the late 19th century. In the first decade of the 20th century, the Italian gangsters such as the Black Hand developed very fast and threatened the Irish mob territories in New York. This resulted in the merging of all the Irish criminal gangs to form a stronger gang-White Hand Gang, to keep the Italian gangs at bay. At first, the union of the Irish gang was successful but it was later faced with internal problems such as in fighting and unstable leadership. The internal problems facing the White Hand Gang resulted into its failure in the 1920s and the Italian gang took over the dominance of New York underworld (Blackwood, 2001).
    Another predominant Irish mob was known as the Westies who operated from the Hells Kitchen. Hells Kitchen is located in the western parts of New York City. The criminal gang dominated the area between the late 1960s and the early 1980s. In that period alone, security agencies in New York believed that the westies committed between 60 and 100 murders. The victims of this criminal gang were tortured to death which also included mutilation of the victims body. During their operations, they are believed to have been the most feared criminal group in the city due to their violent and well organized attacks (English, 2008).
    Despite the Irish mobs dominating the criminal world in the Hells Kitchen with well organized criminal attacks and their rise to power over the New York underworld in the 1960s, the Westies were not known until 1977 when one of the members was associated with the Genovese crime family. The Westies was composed of between twelve and twenty members and the members were occasionally in and out of jail. The Westies are taken to be the last generation of Irish gangsters to dominate New York City (English, 2008). 
    One of the most notorious leaders of the Westies is Mickey Spillane who took over the leadership of the Hells Kitchen gangs after a few years without leadership due to fleeing of the gang leader to evade arrest in 1950s. Spillane was trained by Hughie Mulligan who was leading the group since the departure of their leader. He used to send flowers to sick neighbors and help the needy which portrayed him as a godfather. At the same time, he owned gabling businesses which came along with loan sharking. This from of fraud also led to physical attack while at the same time he was involved in burglary. However, his most audacious criminal activities were kidnapping powerful and wealthy businessmen for ransom. These crimes are believed to have resulted into his downfall. His influence in the city can also be attributed to his union with a powerful family when he married a woman from the prestigious McManus Family. This union enabled him to strengthen the Westies in their organized criminal activities and other underworld crimes (English, 2008).
    Despite his powers as the Westies boss, Spillane was threatened by an Irish boy, Coonan who wanted to revenge against the assault his men had done to the boys father. The boy accused him of planning for the kidnapping of his father and for having a relationship with his mother. The boy used an automatic machine gun to fire at Spillane and his associates in a building but he was not successful in his mission. The boy was sent to prison for a few years and released in 1971 and formed a gang of young Irish who began committing crimes which were aimed at intimidating the Westies. The gang formed and headed by Coonan, kidnapped, assaulted and killed many Spillane associates. Later, Coonan enlisted another young Irish Vietnam war veteran Featherstone as his right man. Featherstone was to assist Coonan in the fight against Spillane. The war between the two gangs was intense to a level that called for the Hells Kitchen residents to choose sides. Those who supported Spillane and his associates were subjected to assault by the Coonans notorious Young Irish Gang. The Westies on the other hand consisted of old and respectable members and therefore those who supported Coonan were not subjected to any harassment (English, 2008).
    In the early 1970s, Spillane feared for his life and moved with his family out of Hells Kitchen into Woodside. Thus Coonan was able to gain control over the Irish gangs who operated in the area. Many of the Spillane supporters defected and supported Coonan while those who did not defect were eliminated. Although Coonan had gained control over Hells Gate and had become the new boss of Irish mobs, he still felt that he had to revenge against the former boss Spillane. When Spillane was murdered by Coonans associates, Featherstone was accused for the offence but he was acquitted. Coonan was able to tighten his association with the Westies and other Irish mobs in Hells Kitchen. Together with his right hand Featherstone, he was able to establish territories in Hells Kitchen where they carried out organized crimes in the 1970s. In 1979, they were accused of murdering a bartender but were latter acquitted. However, they were both imprisoned the following year when Coonan was found guilty of illegally possessing a gun while Featherstone was accused of financial crimes such as loan shaking and gambling. Despite the leaders of the Irish mobs being in jail, the illegal activities of the gang continued in the city as usual. Later, Coonan was able to work very closely with the celebrated criminal John Gotti from the Gambino Family in the mid 1980s where the Westies and the family formed a contract killer gang in the United States (English, 2008).
    Coonan and Featherstone gang could collect protection money from businessmen and prominent individuals in their territories. Businesses which did not cooperate were considered enemies to the Westies and the owners were threatened with murder or burglary. Coonan had also developed some working relationship with the Italian gangsters working in other parts of the United States. This resulted in bad blood between him and Featherstone. Featherstone was later framed for killing a bar owner where Coonan killed the businessman in broad daylight wearing a moustache, a horsehair and driving rented car identical to Featherstones car to impersonate him. When he was convicted, he tried to cooperate with the authority in order to get the case be overturned. The information he and his wife gave to the court proved that he was innocent and the court overturned the case (English, 2008).
    The information that proved Featherstone innocence led to the arrest of Coonan and other associates and was charged with murder and other criminal activities. The prosecutor also announced the accusation against Coonan and his associates for crimes committed for up to two decades. Featherstone was the main witness and testified in court for a month between 1987 and 1988. Following this case, Coonan together with other westies was sent to prison for sixty years.
    In the 1990s, the Hells Kitchen had undergone numerous changes. Its demographics had disappeared and it had changed its name to Clinton. The Irish Americans who were the major community in the area had been replaced by diverse ethnic community. This led to a reduction of Irish mobs and the number of street crimes. The Yugo who was a Serbian nationalist started his Westies affiliation. He was able to control the Irish Americans gang. He also reestablished the Westies criminal relationships with John Gotti. Westies worked as a contract killer gang until the arrest and imprisonment of John Gotti in 1992. The Yugo otherwise known as Radonjich was later arrested and released due to lack of witness in his case and was later returned to Siberia.
    Irish gangsters have also operated in other cities and states in the United States. In 1920s, two Irish gangs were at war with each other for dominance in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. These two gangs were led by Daniel O. Leary and Maxie Hoff. After the Second World War, KA was the dominant Irish gang in the states underworld.    
KA gang was also known as the Philly mob and composed of gangster who were Irish and American Irish. The group started as a youth street gang and group into a major and well established gang which was involved in gambling and burglary among other crimes. By 1980s, the gang had started extending their boundaries to other parts of the country extending beyond Kensington. In Chicago, the prohibition era was the peak of Irish mobs criminal activities. They were mainly involved in bootlegging and hijacking among other criminal activities. Before the 20th century, other Irish mobs such as the North Side Gang, Southside ODonnell Brothers and The Valley Gang operated in Chicago (English, 2005).
    Irish mobs have also existed in other parts of the world such as North America, Europe and Australia. The West End Gang was a criminal gang dominated by the Irish and operated in Canada. It was an enterprising gang and is part of the Montreals Consortium and therefore is very influential organized criminal gang in Canada. Australia, especially Melbourne is well known for Irish criminal gangs. They have controlled trade union and drug trade since the end of the Second World War. They are believed to have made significant contribution in the Melbourne Gangland Killings. In England, the Clerkenwell Crime Organization which is an Irish criminal gang is the strongest criminal group in the United Kingdom.


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