Gangsters are members of gangs or professional criminal organizations who are known for their involvement in the conduct of acts prohibited by law, especially assassination. For decades, these people have been active in several areas of the world particularly in Europe, Asia, United States and Latin America. Most of these gangsters have become infamous either because of the severity of crimes they committed in the past, the fashion through which they assassinated their victims, or because of the popularity of the people that they killed.
Gangsters normally choose to become part of gangs as this provides them with a certain level of organization and support that they cannot get when they operate alone. Here is a list of the top 25 extremely notorious gangsters in history.
(See also Top 20 Notorious Female Gangsters)
(See also Top 10 Richest Gangsters Of All Time)
(See also Top 13 Notorious Mexican Drug Lords)
(See also Top 15 Richest Drug Lords of All Time)
(See also 10 Most Powerful Female Crime Lords Ever)
(See also Top 10 Most Notorious Female Drug Kingpins)
25. Jack Diamond
Irish American gangster Jack Diamond; more commonly known as Gentleman Jack, was a bootlegger whose operations were largely focused in Philadelphia. He was a close friend to another notorious gangster and gambler; Arnold Rothstein. As he oversaw bootleg alcohol sales in lower Manhattan, Diamond had a conflict with Dutch Schultz and the other gangs of the city. He also got involved in a series of kidnappings in Manhattan,including that of James Duncan. He died after being shot by his enemies in his hideout in Albany, New York.
A mobster based in New York, Tom Devaney was the man behind the drift between mobster Mickey Spillane and the Genovese crime family in the 1960’s and 70’s. He also led the gang war against James Coonan, an Irish American mobster and racketeer in Manhattan. George Barone, together with an alleged gunman named Joe “Mad Dog” Sullivan, murdered Tom Devany in Midtown Manhattan. With Devany’s death, Spillane’s operation would soon follow.
An Irish-American mobster and racketeer who used to operate in New York, Manhattan; James “Jimmy C” Coonan became a gangster after he decided to organize his own powerful crew of criminals to avenge for his father, who was kidnapped, beaten and killed by another well-known mobster in the 1960’s; Mickey Spillane. He was sentenced to be imprisoned for 75 years after he was proven guilty of murdering Harold Whitehead.
The man behind the infamous Indian organized crime syndicate dubbed as D-Company, Dawood Ibrahim currently heads a large, unlawful empire in India. He is believed to have masterminded, financed and organized the 1993 Bombay bombings, a series of 13 bomb explosions in Mumbai that left about 250 casualties in every attack. He used to have close links with the late Osama Bin Laden of Al Qaeda and is currently the most wanted man in India.
21. Kray Brothers
Reginald “Reggie” Kray and Ronald “Ronnie” Kray, were twin brothers and English gangsters who masterminded the series of organized crimes in East London. They were primarily involved in large-scale robberies, assaults, arson, protection rackets, as well as the murder of the notorious criminal from London, Jack “The Hat” McVitie. Though they were among the most feared gangsters of their time, the twins became US celebrities in the 1960’s.
Known as the Black Meech in several circles in Atlanta, Demetrius Flenory was among the two founders of the Black Mafia Family, a large drug trafficking organization that predominantly operated in Detroit, then expanded into Atlanta and Los Angeles. He was a convicted trafficker of cocaine throughout the United States for around two decades and was identified as among the highest-earning drug traffickers in the history of the country.
Mexican drug lord Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera led the Sinaloa Cartel, an organized crime syndicate and drug trafficking group that used to operate in Mexico. The cartel was also known then as the Guzman-Loera Organization, named after its leader. He has been one of the most powerful men of the world since 2009, with a net worth of about $1 billion. Forbes Magazine recently labelled him as “the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.”
Known as The Irishman, Irish American gangster James Burke was the head of the Luchesse crime family in the 1970’s and was accused of having been involved in the brutal murder of several people at the time. He is believed to have masterminded the Lufthansa heist, an extensive robbery that took place in the John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1978 which brought in around two million dollars to his account.
A gangster who reached the peak of his popularity during the Castellammarese War in the 1930’s, Vito Genovese was an Italian-American mobster who headed the Genovese crime family. He was mentor to the successor of the lead position of the crime family, Vincent Gigante. In 1931 during the war, he plotted to kill Salvatore Maranzano with the help of Luciano. He moved to Italy and prospered as he led the black market operations of a gambling empire.
A Polish gangster who was known as the Mob’s accountant, Meyer Lansky was among the organized crime figures who developed the National Crime Syndicate in the United States. He was among the most powerful and notorious gangsters of the 20th century and played a big role in the operations of the Italian Mafia. He developed and operated some of the largest gambling empires in the United States and masterminded the formation of the criminal underworld.
Known as the modern gangster of the modern French history, Jacques Mesrine was largely involved in several bank robberies, murders, kidnappings and burglaries in the United States, Canada and France during the 20th century. He was also known as The Man with a Thousand Faces because of his aptitude in disguises for each of his operations. He was imprisoned several times but was always able to escape, and even killed the judges who sentenced him.
14.James Whitey Bulger
|(James Whitey Bulger)|
A notorious gangster based in South Boston, James Whitey Bulger was a social bandit who operated much like Robin Hood. He dedicated his life to leading protection racket which he himself organized. Their purpose was to chase after and kill drug lords and illegal gamblers. In 2011, he was arrested for his involvement in a conspiracy to commit identity fraud and was one of the FBI’s top 10 most wanted fugitives.
Nicknamed Joe Batters or Big Tuna, Anthony Accardo emerged from being a notorious hoodlum to being the head of crime syndicate known as the Chicago Outfit. The Chicago Mob increased in power and health during his tenure, as he expanded its operations throughout several territories in the United States. Months before his death, he killed three thieves who attempted to rob him by hanging them and cutting their throats open.
The founder of Murder Incorporated, Bugsy Siegel was an American mobster who headed the Genovese crime family. He was known for being one of the most feared gangsters of his time because of his ruthlessness to his associates. In the 1940’s he controlled and financed some of the original casinos in Las Vegas and became a bootlegger. He assassinated the Fabrizzo brothers and his rival loan sharks, the Amberg brothers.
A Sicilian mobster, Don Carlo Gambino was the head of the Gambino crime family. In 1957, he was also at the helm of the Commission of the American Mafia, an Italian-American criminal society that operated much like the Sicilian Mafia. He stood up against the Anastasia loyalists in the 1960’s and expanded his rackets to several parts of the United States, until he was able to control about 90% of the ports in New York and gained millions. His crime family was the most powerful in Manhattan back then.
Throughout his life, John Dillinger got involved in several crimes. Among them were the robbery of about 25 banks and police stations in the United States as well as the murder of several people in East Chicago, Indiana. He rose to popularity during the Depression era of the United States, and was then considered as the most notorious of all notorious criminals in the country. He organized crimes and fought head to head against the FBI.
Known as The Prime Minister, Frank Costello was a crime boss and an Italian criminal who was also one of the most popular mob group leaders in the United States, particularly in New York. He also led the Lower East Side Gang of the Manhattan while he worked for another notorious group, the Morello Gang. Costello, together with Luciano, became parts of the Sicilian Mafia Family and became involved in the operations of rum manufacturers.
8. Arnold Rothstein
A businessman and a gambler, American gangster Arnold Rothstein was the organizer of corruption in professional athletics, particularly the fixing of the 1919 World Series. Dubbed as “The Brain,” Rothstein was also the father of one of the most infamous Jewish mobs in New York. He also established and operated a casino and was greatly involved in the smuggling practices along the Hudson River and the Great Lakes.
Known as the unequaled leader of the political machine that ruled the governments of the Atlantic City and Atlantic County, Enoch Lewis Johnson began to rise in power when he was elected as the new sheriff of the Atlantic County Republic Mexican Committee. He led a notorious organization involved in prostitution and gambling and was an advocate of the vice industry of the United States.
An American mobster, Lucky Luciano was known as the father of modern organized crime in the United States as he was the one responsible for the splitting of the country into five Mafia families. He was also the one who established the first Commission in the United States and was the head of the Genovese crime family. Americans today acknowledge him for his organization of the National Crime Syndicates of the United States.
5.Billy the Kid
|(Billy the Kid)|
Also known as Henry Antrim, Billy the Kid was a gangster who had his own murder victim at the age of 18. He was a 19th-century gunman who became involved in the Lincoln County War and was known for his unparalleled skill in handling firearms. Throughout his life, he killed a little less than 30 people and stole several horses and cattle. Firsthand sources say that Billy the Kid killed only those he thought deserved to be killed.
More commonly known as Scarface, Al Capone was an American gangster who dedicated his life smuggling liquor and involving himself in prostitution. At a very young age, he became a member of a notorious gang in New York and engaged in different illegal activities such as bribery among government figures. A few years before he died, he led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate and was brought behind bars on account of tax evasion charges.
A gang leader who got involved in several bank and train robberies and murders, Jesse Woodson James was the most famous member of the 19th century gang known as the James-Younger Gang. He used to be a confederate guerrilla during the Civil War and was normally likened to modern Robin Hood. He is believed to have been actively involved in the atrocities committed against the Union soldiers during the Civil War.
Known as The Cocaine Godmother, Griselda Blanco is a pioneer of one of the biggest cocaine drug trade in Miami. She spent her childhood to adolescence as a pickpocket and a prostitute. When she grew up, she was indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges and was sentenced to be incarcerated for 10 years. Inside the Miami jail, she continued to run her cocaine business with the help of her secret underlings.
A Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar controlled several drug empires and murdered thousands of people around the world. He led one of the most powerful and feared criminal organizations to have ever been assembled in history and had power over several empires of mansion, airlines and gangs composed of soldiers and notorious criminals. He hired several hit men to kill police officers who were in pursuit of him and paid millions. Crime rate in Columbia rose dramatically during his time.
Who were the most notorious public enemies? ›
Public Enemy Era
The 1930s was a period of famous gangsters such as John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, and Ma Barker. It also became known as the Public Enemies Era when the FBI began to keep "Public Enemies" lists of wanted criminals charged with crimes.
Al Capone. Born in 1899, Alphonse Gabriel Capone was an Italian-American gangster who became one of the most notorious criminals in American history. He was also the boss of the Chicago Outfit and is believed to be responsible for numerous murders.Who is world's biggest gangster? ›
Early life. Dawood Ibrahim was born on 26 December 1955 to a Konkani Muslim family in Khed in Maharashtra, India. His father, Ibrahim Kaskar, worked as a head constable with the Mumbai Police and his mother, Amina Bi, was a homemaker.Who was the most feared crime family? ›
It also estimated that the Genovese family consists of about 270 "made" members. The family maintains power and influence in New York, New Jersey, Atlantic City and Florida. It is recognized as the most powerful Mafia family in the U.S., a distinction brought about by their continued devotion to secrecy.Who was America's first Public Enemy No 1? ›
On October 12, 1924, in New Britain, Connecticut, Gerald Chapman became America's first “Public Enemy Number One.” Having set out that morning from nearby Windsor, Chapman and his accomplice, George Anderson, broke into the Davidson & Leventhal department store on Main Street in New Britain.Who was the last Public Enemy? ›
The last Public Enemy No. 1 of the Depression era, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis reportedly compiled a record of fifty-four aliases, fifteen bank robberies, fourteen murders, three jailbreaks and two kidnappings. His criminal career came to an end when J.Who was the smartest gangster ever? ›
|Conviction(s)||Tax evasion (1939)|
|Criminal penalty||2 years' imprisonment (1939)|
- Charles 'Lucky' Luciano.
- Pablo Escobar.
- John Gotti.
- Hisayuki Machii.
- Tony 'Big Tuna' Accardo.
- Salvatore Riina.
- Dawood Ibrahim.
- Xie Caiping.
moll Add to list Share. molls. A woman who's the companion or conspirator to a gangster can be called a moll. One of the most famous molls was Bonnie Parker, of the criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde.What's higher than a gangster? ›
Boss – Also known as the capomandamento, capocrimine, rappresentante, don, or godfather, is the highest level in a crime family. Underboss – Also known as the "capo bastone" in some criminal organizations, this individual is the second-in-command.
Who is the biggest modern gangster? ›
The grand don of world crime bosses has to be Semion Mogilevich of Russia. Multiple websites mention Mogilevich – 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing about 300 pounds and a heavy smoker – as first among his mobster peers, if he has any.Who was the most ruthless crime boss? ›
|Years of service||1942–1944|
Julio Santana, a notorious Brazilian hitman, he is considered by the Brazilian and international media as "the deadliest hitman in history", for having killed 492 people officially (more than 500 unofficially), considered the highest number of fatal victims killed by a single hitman.Who is the FBI Public Enemy? ›
Unlike Loesch's use of the term, the FBI's "Public Enemies" were wanted criminals and fugitives who were already charged with crimes. Among the criminals whom the FBI called "public enemies" were John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, Ma Barker, and Alvin Karpis.Who was Public Enemy #1 FBI? ›
The FBI's historian details the life and criminal history of John Dillinger, the mad deemed "Public Enemy #1" during the Great Depression and how his activities motivated changes within the worlds premier law enforcement agency.Who was FBI Public Enemy number one? ›
John Dillinger: How a small-town crook became the FBI's Public Enemy No. 1.Who is the leader of Public Enemy? ›
Public Enemy is an American hip hop group formed by Chuck D and Flavor Flav on Long Island, New York, in 1985. The group rose to prominence for their political messages including subjects such as American racism and the American media.Who or what is Public Enemy No 1 today? ›
noun. In many countries today, drug abuse is public enemy number one.What were Dillinger's last words? ›
According to FBI reports, Dillinger had no last words. However, this remains highly disputed. It is rumored that he said, "You got me," after he was shot.Who is the most powerful mobster today? ›
With the deaths of Bernardo Provenzano in 2016 and Salvatore Riina in 2017, Messina Denaro was seen as the unchallenged boss of all bosses within the Mafia. After 30 years on the run, he was arrested on 16 January 2023 near a private clinic in Sicily's capital, Palermo.
Who is the oldest living mobster? ›
- Leona Roberts Helmsley – $5 billion. ...
- Carlos Lehder – $2.7 billion. ...
- Adnan Khashoggi – $2 billion. ...
- Griselda Blanco – $2 billion. ...
- Frank Costello – $1 billion. ...
- Joaquín Guzmán Loera – $1 billion. ...
- Carlo Gambino – $400 million. ...
- Jho Low – $150 million.
- Al Capone (1899-1947) ...
- Albert Anastasia (1902 – 1957) ...
- 'Lucky' Luciano (1897 – 1962) ...
- Frank Costello (1891 – 1973) ...
- Carlo Gambino (1902 – 1976) ...
- Paul Castellano (1915 – 1985) ...
- Pablo Escobar (1949 – 1993) ...
- John Gotti (1940 – 2002)
- Official Boss: Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalù
- Street Boss: Lorenzo Mannino.
- Underboss: Unknown.
- Consigliere: Lorenzo Mannino.
- New Jersey Faction Boss: Nicholas "Nicky Mita" Mitarotonda.
- Estimated Membership: About 180 Made Members.
mobster Add to list Share. mobsters. A mobster is a bad guy who's involved in organized crime or belongs to a gang.What is a Goomba in Italian slang? ›
goom·bah ˈgüm-ˌbä plural goombahs. informal : a close friend or associate. used especially among Italian-American men.What does ugatz mean in Italian? ›
(inanimate) breast synonyms ▲ Synonyms: bular, titi. (inanimate) breastmilk.Who were the 5 crime families? ›
Five Families, moniker given to the five major Italian American Mafia families in New York City: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese. The families and their inner workings were publicly revealed in 1963, when a Mafia soldier testified at a congressional hearing.Who are the biggest crime families? ›
The FBI has kept an eye on the five families that have run New York's US-Italian mob since the 1930s - the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese families - and continue to do so today.Who was considered Public Enemy #1 in organized crime? ›
John Herbert Dillinger was a dangerous killer and midwestern bank robber during the early 1930s. He was responsible for the murder of several police officers, robbed at least two dozen banks, and escaped from jail twice.
Who was Public Enemy Number 1 1932? ›
John Herbert Dillinger (/ˈdɪlɪndʒər/; June 22, 1903 – July 22, 1934) was an American gangster during the Great Depression.Who was in Public Enemy? ›
Public EnemyWho was the best known most feared American gangster in the 1920s? ›
Rival gangs led by the powerful Al “Scarface” Capone and the hot-headed George “Bugs” Moran turned the city streets into a virtual war zone with their gangland clashes. By 1926, more than 12,000 murders were taking place every year across America.