Phil (l) with Buggsy Goldstein
ORIGINAL MURDER, INC.
‘Murder, Inc.’ was launched. As the roaring 20’s ended, various mobsters came
together in an liquor cooperative they called the ‘Big Seven.’
the ‘Big Seven’ controlled all rum running on the Eastern seaboard. The
group had its own ships and trucks, set up offshore loading bases in the Bahamas
and had an extensive radio communications network. Everything; including
the price of booze and the bottles that would be used were controlled by the
this monopoly would be a far cry from the national syndicate, including Murder,
Inc., that would control all aspects of organized crime in later years.
original ‘Murder Inc.’ was formed in the 1930’s. The organization was
a national underworld cartel that controlled murder, gambling, unions, loan-sharking,
and narcotics through the mid 40’s.
the height of its power, Murder, Inc. was responsible for thousands of killings
from coast to coast. Guns and knives were used, as well as cremation.
of the killers affiliated with Murder, Inc. were recruited from gangs in Brooklyn
and East New York. They accepted murder contracts from mob bosses all
over the United States.
killers were paid a regular salary, plus an average fee of $1,000-$5,000 per
killing. Their families also received monetary benefits. If they were
caught, the mob would supply the best lawyers.
the 1930’s, a gangster used Murder, Inc. to murder witnesses and suspected informants. In another case, four killers hacked loan shark George Rudnick to pieces
for the mere suspicion of being an informant.
1941, Abe Reles was promised immunity from prosecution. He informed on
many killers and described many of the murders in court. The syndicate
promised a $100,000 reward
for his death. Amazingly, despite being guarded by a dozen policemen,
Reles fell from a hotel room to his death.
Phil (pictured above) was one of the most dangerous assassins affiliated with
Murder, Inc. He was also a fashion conscious man who wore silk shirts
and designer suits.
was considered a real artist with a taste for blood and a talent for killing. He was also an expert with an ice pick.
a long time, Phil didn’t get caught. He had been arrested 29 times in
13 years and had never been convicted.
would soon change when an ambitious assistant D.A. took office, he sent Phil
to the electric chair.
he was electrocuted, Phil confessed to killing more than 30 men in a dozen cities. He begged for contracts and took great delight in a job well done. He
was just another slayer in the stable of killers associated with Murder, Inc.
years earlier, a mob summit was held, when the idea was presented to form a
murder cartel that could dispatch killers, Lucky Luciano and Lepke Buchalter
(pictured above) jumped on the idea.
particular syndicate would work like a corporation of sorts. There would
be a board of directors that would moderate disputes and set general policy.
No killings would be allowed unless everyone agreed.
mobsters, Frank Costello, Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Joey Adonis and Lucky
Luciano signed on to the new cartel.
meetings would be held around the country and everywhere, the response was the
same. Detroit signed on, Kansas City joined and so did Chicago, Cleveland,
St. Louis and New Orleans. The Syndicate went nationwide and operated
as a ‘union’ for murder.
national syndicate would gain complete control over the rackets in New York. Prostitution had been organized as well as hijacking and extortion.
Inc. was also running at full steam. Luciano sent Bugsy Siegel out to Los Angeles
to integrate Jack Dragna’s gang into the syndicate.
Buchalter would become an instrumental part of Murder, Inc. Lepke also had his
fingers in an narcotics smuggling ring, receiving 33 percent of the profits
from any drugs brought into the country.
the kingpin of New York’s industrial rackets, Lepke needed a stable of gunmen
to preserve order. Lepke would eventually assemble an army of more than
200 of the most vicious killers in the city, and kill they did.
overseas buyer Curly Holtz, who once arranged six quick shipments of morphine
and heroin and earned his boss $3 million profit in just 10 days, got greedy. He pocketed part of the buy money on a trip to Europe and tried to cover
up the theft by tipping off authorities to the shipment. He was caught by friends
and paid with his life.
would earn the nickname ‘Judge Lepke’ as a result of his seat on the national
mobster Dutch Schultz threatened to kill the district attorney. Lepke
didn’t want the heat and decided that Schultz had to die.
contacted a Murder, Inc. hit man named Mendy Weiss.
was a flashy dresser who liked diamonds and acted as an underboss for Lepke
when Lepke had to go underground.
got a tip that Shultz was dining at a restaurant. He arrived and didn’t
see Schultz, he checked the men’s bathroom and found Shultz washing his hands,
Weiss opened fire, Schultz fell to the floor.
took Schultz 48 hours to die as he raved like a mad man in the hospital.
would move in and take over Schultz’s operation.
1937, the heat was on and Lepke decided to go underground, turning over the
day-to-day operations to Mendy Weiss.
1939, Lepke ordered more than a dozen hits. Sometimes he would have two Murder,
Inc. crews on the road at a time looking for mobsters who might squeal.
on the run presented no problem for the gunmen of Murder, Inc. even when the
law couldn’t find a hoodlum, Murder, Inc. could track down anyone who was hiding
out either from police or fellow gangsters.
few mobsters who got away, ran straight into the arms of the law for protection.
philosophy was, ‘investigations collapse when no witnesses are around.’
Levine, was a killer for Murder, Inc. He had been involved in 6 murders by the
time he was 23. A newlywed, Levine tried to break from the underworld when his
wife gave birth to their first child. Levine had been driving a truck and hauling
garbage but he wasn’t rich. When the hospital demanded payment before
it would discharge his wife and child. Levine was forced to go to Pittsburgh
Phil (before his arrest and electrocution) and borrow $100. He was forced
into working back for the gang to stay alive.
time, Levine couldn’t make his payments on the loan; he heard Phil was gunning
went to the police and implicated Phil in a number of slayings. He also implicated
was on the run from the feds. He eventually had a change of heart and
turned himself in.
was convicted and was serving a 30-year sentence.
mob informant; would implicate Lepke in additional crimes.
testimony was good enough for the jury. Four hours later, the verdict
came back against Lepke.
co-founder of the national syndicate was guilty of first-degree murder. The penalty for murder in New York was death by execution.
Buchalter’s last meal was steak, french fries, salad, pie, roast chicken and
salad. He was electrocuted on March 2, 1944.
execution sealed the fate of Murder, Inc.
Mark Gribben @ ‘The Crime Library’ and ‘Murder, Inc.’ by Burton B. Turkus