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10 most notorious gangsters


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In forthcoming gangster epic Gangster Squad, LA is in the grasp of notorious criminal Mickey Cohen (played by Sean Penn). To celebrate the release, TNS looks at 10 of the world's most notorious gangsters...

The Krays

Ronald and Reginald Kray (aka The Kray Twins) 

Ronald and Reginald Kray terrorised London’s East End in the 1950s and 60s through their successful nightclub empire. According to legend, they even silenced the press, using threats against editors to keep negative stories about their business practises away from the public. 

Did you know? Experts say Ronald was almost certainly a paranoid schizophrenic. Celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland were also friends of the Krays.  

Rodolfo Cadena and Joe “Pegleg” Morgan 

These guys were two of the highest ranking members the Mexican Mafia, one of America’s most notorious prison gangs. 

Credited with inventing the so-called ‘execution’ murder in Southern California, Cadena and Morgan spent most of their lives in prison overseeing firearms and drugs trafficking. 

Did you know? The Mexican Mafia allied with the racist Aryan Brotherhood in a joint-war against the African American Black Guerrilla Family.

Stanley “Tookie” Williams 

As leader of the Crips street gang, Stanley “Tookie” Williams was the archetypal American thug. 

However, after being convicted of four murders in 1979, Williams was sent to San Quentin State Prison, where he spent six and a half years in solitary confinement. He later reformed his character and began producing anti-gang and anti-violence literature. He was executed by the state of California in 2005. 

Did you know? Unbelievably, Williams was able to live a double life in the years leading up to his conviction. He was employed as a youth counsellor and found some success in bodybuilding, even appearing on a televised talent show in 1979.

Charlie and Eddie Richardson 

Brothers Charlie and Eddie Richardson from Camberwell, south-east London, were engaged in a bitter turf war with the Krays in the mid-1960s. However, they are most famous for their predilection for torture. 

Victims of the Richardson Gang would be subjected to a mock trial before being dealt a series of sadistic punishments ranging from beatings to electrocutions to having their teeth pulled out with pliers. 

Did you know? Charlie Richardson was arrested on the same day England won the World Cup Final in 1966. 

John Dillinger 

The most profitable bank robber of his age, John Dillinger and his cadre of thieves raided over two dozen banks and four police stations during the Great Depression. 

Did you know? He was shot and killed outside the Biograph Theatre in Chicago in 1934. The movie being screened was a crime caper called Manhattan Melodrama.

Tony Accardo 

The story of Tony Accardo’s rise to prominence in the Chicago criminal underworld resembles the plot of a Cagney gangster movie: the son of an Italian immigrant moves from being a small-time crook to a favourite of Alphonse “Al” Capone, eventually becoming the boss of the Chicago’s most dangerous gang, The Outfit. He also had incredible longevity for a gangster, dying at the ripe age of 86. 

Did you know? After Accardo’s house was burglarized in 1978, he ordered a hit on the thieves – who were found three days later with their throats cut. I guess it pays to have connections... 

Al Capone 

Al CaponeNew York native Al Capone is widely considered the most recognisable criminal of the 20th Century. 

Less remembered is the fact his day-to-day life as a smuggler and pimp in Chicago would go on to fund various charitable incentives. In the 1920s and 30s he became a visible public figure and was viewed by the public to be a modern-day Robin Hood.

Did you know? Al Capone is the most filmed gangster in Hollywood history. Most recently his likeness appeared in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

Gangster Squad is in cinemas on 10th January.

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