Of course there was crime before Prohibition, even organized crime, but it was smaller, local, and less powerful in the days before Prohibition. Prohibition made crime Big Business. Violence skyrocketed. Murders increased by 80%.
Gangsters in the major cities who had once made their money from prostitution and gambling now had something much more lucrative–liquor. They didn’t give up the gambling, etc., they just grew into the new opportunities like any other business expanding into new ventures. But now they were funded by the vast majority of “respectable” Americans.
I can’t help but see the parallel between then and now, when so many “respectable” Americans today are funding international organized crime syndicates through their use of illegal drugs. The more I’ve learned about the horrors of Prohibition, the more I’ve come to believe that similar action needs to be taken with drugs, starting with marijuana. I’m following with interest the news from the few states that are experimenting with de-criminalizing this drug.