The history of prohibition dates back to the 1920’s marking the America’s constitutional ban on the making, distribution, importation, and sale of alcoholic drinks in the country between 1920 and 1933. However, despite the ban on alcohol production and usage within the United States, cases of organized crimes were on the rise. This paper reviews the historical relationship between the prohibition and prevalence of organized crimes in the country. The ban on alcoholic trade in the United States prompted the illegal sale due to the shortage in supply of drugs and alcoholic drinks. Consequently, organized crimes such as drug trafficking and drug smuggling to satisfy the needs of the majority of the American citizens with alcoholism and drug addiction issues increased as they deemed business opportunities (Demleitner, 1994). According to the film (Scarface) a Cuban refugee, Al Pachino, arrives in Miami and finds his way to be one of the greatest drug dealers within the region. The film depicts the great represents the American hip-hop culture, which is associated with gangs and organized crime offenders. This portrays the fascination of the people with criminal activities and recognition of organized crimes as American culture.
Due to the constitutional ban, the government put in place strict measures to ensure enforcement of the law. In the 1920’s the Republican President Warren Harding instilled a constitutional ban on alcoholic trade without adequately equipping the law enforcement team to meet the goals of the law. For this reason, the government did not have the support of the majority nor the neighboring countries as Mexicans, and Canadian breweries continuously produced the alcoholic products sold in the society (Demleitner, 1994).With a weak government enforcement of the law, the Americans could easily access alcoholic beverages from Mexico and Canada, its neighbors through smuggling. As the movie (Scarface) illustrates, the weak police department in Miami made it easy for organized crimes through bribery and other forms of corruption. Further, due to poor workplace competency, individual federal agents could not resist bribery temptations. As a result, federal agents took advantage of the ban to create extra money through organized crime. The ban became hard to enforce within the US as everyone who had tasted alcohol before was interested in accessing a bottle a day. Private drinking dens were established within major cities such as New York. Mexican and Canadian distilleries band breweries located near the American border continuously made sales from all sides through border corruption and smuggling. Prohibition fed organized crime by developing a shortage in illegal products in the United States, which were associated with the American pop culture.
Crime films such as Scarface and The Public Enemy publicize organized crime in the United States as a cultural element. This is because the hip-hop culture is associated with gangster and crime-related activities. As a result, by using gangster movies and organized crime as a form of entertainment, many Americans are influenced by the media entertainment. These activities become appealing as a way of identification and fascination through role modeling by some of the greatest pop stars in the film industry. This explains the widespread organized crime in the United States. The Depression-era (1929-1941) further represents the working class with several workplaces and domestic issues to deal with (Romer, 1992). This led to an increased need for anti-depressants, which mainly include drugs and alcohol. The Movie (Scarface) points out how creating a ban on depressed society does not help reduce or curb crime. Instead, the general impression in the American society is prohibition did not meet its formulation goals. This process led to an increase in organized crime and excessive violence within the country.
- Demleitner, N. V. (1994). Organized crime and prohibition: What difference does legalization make. Whittier L. Rev., 15, 613.
- Martin B., & De Palma B., (1983). Scarface. The United States. Universal Pictures.
- Romer, C. D. (1992). What ended the great depression? The Journal of Economic History, 52(4), 757-784.