During the 20th century, mafia families reigned and caused havoc all over the United States. Throughout that time, many came forward, but very few had the impacts that Lucky Luciano did. Here, we look at some mind-blowing facts about the gang leader and his escapades.

1. He Was Born Salvatore Luciana

Born to Antonio Lucania and Rosalia Capporelli, Lucky Luciano’s given name was Salvatore Luciana. He was born on November 24, 1897, in Sicily, Italy, and had three siblings. However, he changed his name from Salvatore to Charles because he thought its short form, Sal or Sally, was not masculine enough; his peers always made fun of him cause of it. As for Luciano from Luciana, he thought it was easier for Americans to pronounce the former.

2. It Is Unclear How He Got the Nickname “Lucky”

To date, nobody certainly knows how Charles Luciano got his nickname “Lucky.” Different versions are available, though. Some say he survived a thorough beating and slashed throat by a group of men in 1929. Others say he was extremely lucky in gambling, while a few think it is a short form of his name, “Luciano.”

3. He Had a “Favorite” Assassin

To enhance his dealings, Lucky Luciano had a “favorite” assassin called Samuel “Red” Levine, an orthodox Jew. Interestingly, the killer didn’t like taking “gigs” from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. If and when he had to work on Shabbat, he would pray and then do the job.

4. Lucky Luciano Ended the “Boss of Bosses” Role

Following a prolonged war between Joe Masseria (the last boss of bosses) and Salvatore Maranzano, famously the Castellammarese war, Lucky Luciano saw the opportunity to assert himself as a leader. Even though he was under Masseria, Luciano plotted his boss’ assassination, doing away with the “boss of bosses” mafia family position. Luciano figured Masseria was acting recklessly, and bloodshed only resulted in more “heat” from the police.

5. He Changed the Structure of the Mafia Families

With the elimination of the “boss of bosses,” every head of the mafia family had an “equal” say, even though Lucky Luciano was the dominant figure. They could make decisions without worrying about offending a superior figure.

As such, Lucky Luciano earned the tag “king of the underworld” of the United States. He set policies and controlled lucrative criminal rackets such as bookmarking, illegal gambling, loansharking, drug trafficking, and extortion.

6. Lucky Luciano Intentionally Avoided Declaring Himself Capo di tutti capi

After successfully plotting the assassination of Joe Masseria, Lucky Luciano intentionally avoided declaring himself “Capo di tutti capi” or the “Godfather.” He figured that would make him a target for another ambitious challenger.

7. Lucky Luciano Wanted To Produce a Film about His Life, Then He Didn’t

After returning to Italy and the money sent to him by his friends from the USA reduced, Lucky Luciano thought about producing a film about his life and dealings. He even approached Hollywood producer Martin Gosch with the same arrangements.

However, after the other players in the USA caught wind of what Luciano was trying to do, they shut the project down to cover their trails. Lucky Luciano had to call Gosch and cancel the plans.

8. Lucky Luciano Started Gang-Related Activities When He Was a Teenager

Lucky Luciano’s first gang was called Five Points Gang. It primarily consisted of Irish-American members and operated in the Five Points of Lower Manhattan, New York City. The gang provided security to other Jewish youngsters who were constantly threatened by the Irish and Italian organizations at 10 cents per week.

9. He Rose to Power During the Prohibition

From 1920 to 1933, the United States passed a law that prohibited the production, transportation, importation, and selling of alcoholic beverages in the country. This era, called Prohibition, resulted in many things, including Lucky Luciano’s rise to power.

He met and connected with many future mafia leaders, created business relationships, and developed ideas appreciated by the larger criminal community. It was also during this time that he started dealing drugs and “built his brand.”

10. Lucky Luciano Led a Reserved Life

Even after breaking through the ranks and making a name for himself, Lucky Luciano desired to lay low. He did not like his name mentioned recklessly, never had a child, and avoided public gatherings. To some extent, this lifestyle contributed to his longevity in the game.

11. The Appointment of Thomas E. Dewey Marked the Start of Lucky Luciano’s Downfall

Before the appointment of Thomas E. Dewey as the lead investigator into prostitution racketeering in 1935, the likes of Lucky Luciano would bribe their way out of being held liable. Dewey was incorruptible and served with diligence, which meant trouble for Lucky Luciano and company.

12. Lucky Luciano Was Prosecuted for Prostitution Racketeering

Over time, Lucky Luciano had become so powerful that he started a forced prostitution network. His workers could forcibly bring in young women, rape them to remove their innocence & morals, introduce them to drugs, and then enroll them in prostitution.

The women would use the money earned in prostitution (which Luciano had a cut) to buy drugs, again from the criminal organization. An investigation was done, Lucky Luciano was arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced.

13. He Ran His Gang’s Operations Even While in Jail

Lucky Luciano’s prison sentence didn’t stop him from running his criminal gangs; he did so by giving orders to his acting boss. Even when his aide left the job and fled the country in 1937, Lucky Luciano found and assigned Costello as the new interim boss.

14. Lucky Luciano Helped the United States Navy While in Prison

World War II started and ended when Lucky Luciano was in prison. In 1942, the United States Navy faced threats from the Germans and Italians, and they needed to retaliate. Knowing Lucky Luciano understood and controlled the waterfront, the officers sought his help. Luciano offered his assistance in exchange for nothing concrete.

15. He Was Deported to Italy in 1946

Even though there was no deal between the United States government and Lucky Luciano regarding his release from prison, the navy’s success against their enemies using his Intel changed everything. In 1946, Thomas Dewey reluctantly approved his release but ordered the criminal’s deportation to Italy.

16. Lucky Luciano Tried To Get Back to the United States Severally

After his deportation, life in Italy was “unbearable;” he didn’t have the resources and power that he had before. He tried to get back to the United States through Mexico and Cuba. Unfortunately for him, the authorities were on his radar, and none of his plans materialized.

17. He was Buried in the United States

In 1962, Lucky Luciano was unlucky to suffer a heart attack that claimed his life. Interestingly, his body was transported and buried in the United States, where it remains to date.

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Crime, People,

Last Update: December 12, 2023