A Short History of Gangs

History of gangs goes back to the time as long as humans existed in towns. If piracy is considered to be related with gangs then it stretches back to the time when ships sailed across the oceans. Gangs are generally considered by authorities as undesirable, though many gangs consider themselves as protectors of their community.

Not much is known about gangs before Romans in ancient history, although many historians suggest that if gangs were a law and order problem in Rome, they there possibly known by older empires and states. Suburban criminal gangs during the Roman times caused disruption to life with riots and mayhem, these gangs were the first to invent protection rackets.

Roman gangs were involved in criminal activities of kidnapping for ransom and they often took the help of smugglers and pirates. Most of the early historians blame senatorial corruption under powerful gangs influence for the fall of Roman Empire.

Gangs operated throughout Europe during the medieval ages, although few of them were active outside their localities. The story of Robin Hood is a good example of how gangs operated in those times. The poor people who helped the gangs were pain for their loyalty which led them to become heroes rather than villains.

On the other hand, the Arab world had no belief in the goodness of gangs comprising of thieves as many met terrible fate at the hands of good people. One such famous story is “Ali Baba and the forty thieves”.

Criminal gangs existed in India from 13th to 19th century known as thuggee, they raided trading caravans and killed people as they looted. The term thug is derived from these gangs and is synonymous with the word gangster in England.

Gangs of criminals operated in Japan and China in the 17th Century, they were respectively known as Yazuka and Triads Gangs. Japanese yakuza and Chinese Triads started as political groups but soon became known for their threats, robbery and often kidnapped and killed.

The Triads later migrated to Taiwan, Hong Kong and USA. On the other hand, Yakuza of Japan did not expand outside Japan other than Korea. The Yakuza gangs mostly spread their tentacles deep in Japanese business and many became heads of big corporations.

Gangs were known in US since the first cities developed. Most children were involved in minor crimes but later often made switch to more serious offenses.
After the westwards expansion across the continent, gangs started showing their power in the US. The Wild West outlaws like Billy the Kid, Reno Gang, Butch Cassidy, Hole in the Wall Gang and others added charm to the old west gangs nothing more than thieves and murderers.

Since the Chicago Outfit or Gambino Family of New York and the 1920s, history of gangs has changed with gangs fighting for control of territory. Al Capone, Don Carlo and Lucky Luciano were the biggest names in Mafia of that time. Gangs like the bloods and crips from Los Angeles had spread their criminal empires throughout the USA including the military.

The history of gangs is still not complete, there are complex changes happening within gangs that could change the entire industry in the next coming years.

Biker Business….

With motorcycle gang violence again under scrutiny, it’s worth remembering an ominous warning about a biker blueprint for consolidating and carving up territory amongst the strongest clubs to maximise illicit incomes.

The warning was contained in a confidential assessment prepared in New Zealand on the activities of the Bandidos and the Highway 61 club and an agreement between Australian motorcycle gangs.

Bandidos chapter president Rodney Monk was gunned down outside an East Sydney restaurant on Thursday night in what appears to have been an internal club dispute. Police are hunting former Banidos sergeant-at-arms Russell Oldham in connection with the killing. Monk has since been named as a cocaine “broker” with links to an organised drug syndicate.

And on Saturday three members of the Highway 61 gang were arrested in Adelaide over the blackmail and bashing of a local man who owed money for drugs. The men were arrested at Adelaide airport after flying in from Sydney, allegedly to further threaten the victim. Two of the bikies were travelling under false identities.

Acting Detective Superintendent Graham Goodwin said after the arrests that such violence was become more common amongst bikie gangs.

“We are becoming increasingly aware that members of motorcycle gangs and their associates are threatening and extorting members of the community to obtain money and other assets,” he said.

In the document called “A Preliminary Report on the Bandidos Motor Cycle Club Merging with the New Zealand Highway 61 Motor Cycle Club” prepared by New Zealand police in 1996, details were given of plans by international biker gangs to drastically reduce the number of outlaw motor clubs proliferating world-wide.

“This [move] began in America where most motor cycle initiatives appear to begin, and through the reaches of the empire of the strong gangs, such as the Hell’s Angels and Outlaws, spread to Europe through their associated chapters and affiliated groups, and then to other countries of the world,” the report said.

“The reasoning behind the activity was to limit and control the amount of competition for the shrinking dollar in the illicit trading arena such as the drugs market, and to strengthen the financial position of the major corporation players.

“…where minor gang entities exist, they were either to be chartered (taken over) or absorbed by takeover, or eliminated completely, often through extreme violence, [including] homicide through shootings and bombings.

“In early 1994, following the world trend, there was a meeting in Sydney, Australia, between the major gangs where it was decided informally that the gangs in that country would adopt a similar stance to that already being set up by the rest of the [multinational] gang business world-wide.

“There would be a maximum of six gangs controlling Australia by the year 2000.”

Under what was dubbed the “Australia 2000 Pact” the six gangs that would dominate were the Hell’s Angels, Outlaws, Bandidos, Rebels, Black Uhlans and Nomads.

The contents of the confidential report were revealed to the SA parliament on July 2, 1996 amid growing fears in that state of motorcycle gang violence.

The SA parliament was told that the confidential report detailed how New Zealand bikies had links to Australian gangs involved in trading and selling illegal weapons.

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American Mobster – Owney Maddon – Head of the Gophers Street Gang

Owney “The Killer” Madden was an anomaly in the world of New York City gangsters, mainly because he was not Italian, or even Jewish. Madden was British, the son of an relocated Irish dockworker; born and bred, and dedicated for life to his homeland — merry old England. In fact, even though Madden was an American criminal for six decades, he didn’t give up his English passport until 1950, after he was threatened with deportation.

Owen “Owney” Madden was born at 25 Somerset Street, in Leeds, England, on December 18, 1891. In need of work, his father moved the Madden family to Liverpool. In 1903, when young Madden was only 12, his father died and his mother re-located the family to America, settling on the west side of Manhattan, in a treacherous neighborhood called “Hells Kitchen.” Madden fell in with a rough-and-tumble gang known as the Gophers and he became proficient in the favored crimes of the era; robberies, muggings and labor racket beatings. Madden was adept at using a myriad of weapons, including a slingshot and brass knuckles, but his favorite weapon was a lead pipe wrapped in newspaper. His main source of income was the “insurance business,” where Madden sold “bomb insurance” to scores of local merchants, who were worried about having their businesses bombed, from none other than Madden himself. As a member of the Gophers, Madden was arrested forty-four times, but managed to stay out of prison every time.

When he was seventeen, Madden earned his nickname “The Killer,” because he shot to death an unarmed Italian in the street, for no reason, other than he could do it. After the killing, Madden stood over the dead body and announced to the assembled crowd, “I’m Owney Madden!” By the time he was twenty-three, Madden had at least five other murders to his credit.

One time, Madden’s braggadocio almost cost him his life. On November, 6, 1912, at the Arbor Dance Hall, which was in the heart of the territory controlled by the Gopher’s rivals – the Hudson Dusters, Madden strolled into the hall by himself during a dance given by the Dave Hyson Association. He was watching the proceedings from the balcony, when eleven Hudson Dusters surrounded him and filled his body with six pieces of lead. He was rushed to the hospital, where a detective asked Madden who shot him.

“Nothin’ doin,'” Madden said. “It’s no business but mine who put these slugs into me. My boys will get them.” By the time Madden was released from the hospital, six of his eleven assailants had already been shot dead.

While Madden was recuperating, one of his fellow Gophers, Little Patsy Doyle, thought he could use Madden’s weakened condition as a reason to take control of the gang. Yet the main cause of Doyle’s ire was that Madden had stolen Doyle’s girlfriend Freda Horner away from him. When word got back to Madden about Doyle’s intentions, he used Miss Horner to lure Doyle to a saloon on Eight Avenue and Forty-First Street, where Madden and two of his gunmen shot Doyle dead. Madden was arrested three days later, and at his trial, Miss Horner turned the tables and testified against Madden. He was sentenced to Sing Sing Prison for 10-20 years, but did only eight, being released in 1923.

When he hit the streets again, Madden found his Gophers gang had dissipated, so he threw himself head-first into the bootlegging business. There Madden moved up in class and was considered the equal of such mobsters as Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Louis Lepke, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. Madden also dabbled in the night club business, opening the legendary Cotton Club in Harlem, which he bought from former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.

His relationship with Johnson, segued Madden into the boxing business, where he nurtured the career of Italian carnival freak, the six-foot-six-inch, 285-pound, Primo Canera. Madden fed Canera so many stiffs and set-ups, the no-talent Canera was able to win the heavyweight championship of the world. He did so by landing an invisible punch against champion Jack Sharkey in the 6th round at the Madison Square Garden Bowl, in Long Island City. Sharkey obviously took a dive and was reportedly paid handsomely to do so. The first time Madden put Canera in tough, against Jewish heavyweight sensation Max Baer, he was knocked down ten times, before the referee mercifully stopped the fight in the 11th round. Of course, Madden made big money betting on Baer, who, because of Canera’s feared reputation, went into the fight as a slight underdog.

In 1932, Madden was arrested on a parole violation, and when he was released a few months later, he decided he had accumulated enough cash in a lifetime of crime to relocate to Hot Springs, Arkansas. There Madden opened several casino/hotels, which were used as hideouts for New York City mobsters on the lam, and he even married the Postmaster’s daughter. Madden was granted United States citizenship in 1943, and after being stricken with emphysema, Madden died in his bed in 1965, at the ripe old age of 74. He was said to have amassed a fortune of $3 million, but not surprisingly, none of that money was ever found after his death.