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The Good Life

Bootleg Booze

When Prohibition rendered alcohol illegal in the United States, bootleggers, foreign producers and the Mob kept Americans in good spirits
By Jack Bettridge | From America’s Most Notorious Mobsters, November/December 2020
Bootleg Booze
Photo/Buyenlarge via Getty Images
Revenue agents dumping a barrel of bootlegged whisky during Prohibition.
Fifty-eight minutes after the 18th Amendment took effect on January 17, 1920, the first violation of Prohibition had already been documented. Less than an hour after the Volstead Act banned the manufacture, sale and distribution of “intoxicating” liquors, armed robbers stole a shipment of medicinal whiskey from a freight train. It wouldn’t be long before flouting the law for profit would become a billion-dollar nationwide business, and bootlegging illegal booze was a line of work that proved quite attractive to mobsters such as Al Capone, Dutch Schultz, Bugsy Siegel and more who used violence to gain market share. Federal officers tried their best to keep up with …
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