Charles “Lucky” Luciano was born Salvatore Lucania on November 24, 1897 in Lercara Friddi, Sicily. He immigrated to the United States in 1906 where his family settled on the Lower East Side of New York where Lucky promptly integrated himself in the neighborhood as a small time hoodlum.
By his 10th birthday, Lucky had been arrested for shoplifting, started his own gang, and his first racket. He charged Jewish kids one penny for protection walking to and from school. If they didn’t pay, he beat them up. Business flourished, with Lucky earning an average of twenty-five cents a week, quite a sum in those days. He earned more each week until he came across a small Jewish boy named Meyer Lansky who fought back. Lansky could throw a punch as well as Lucky. After several loses Lucky concluded Meyer would be best fit on his side and not against. Like minded, Meyer wanted a piece of Lucky’s racket forcing Lucky to double the daily protection cost to two cents per day, per kid.
In 1916 Luciano, recently released from reform school for peddling narcotics, became the leader of the Five Points Gang where he continued to make a name for himself. Local law enforcement named Lucky in several unsolved murders but didn’t have the evidence to bring about charges. By 1920, Luciano and the Five Points Gang had grown in members. Joining Lucky was Jewsish gangster Bugsy Siegel, Frank Costello, and Vito Genovese. All but Siegel, would become boss of the future Genovese family.
With the start of prohibition, bootlegging became their number one money maker for the first part of the 1920’s. By the time he reached 28 years old Lucky grossed over 12 million dollars per year, but due to the political costs of paying politicians, law enforcement, and other mafia leaders, he saw little of it. A creative criminal mind, it wasn’t long before Luciano saw an opening to keep more of the wealth for himself and his underworld family. The opportunity came when then powerful crime boss Joe Masseria and rival Salvatore Maranzano became tangled in a war famously called the Castellammarese War. Both Masseria and Maranzano were vying for the top spot in New York and recruited Lucky and his Jewish friends to join them. Luciano allowed both Masseria and Maranzano think he was united with them.
In 1929 Lucky was abducted, beaten, and slashed by a group of men who left him for dead on New York Beach. Hesurvived and later learned from Meyer Lansky that Maranzano was behind the attack. Marazano feared Lucky’s strength and wanted him out of the way. After the attack, Masseria took the event to bring Lucky closer to his side, but it was Lucky who played Masseria. After secret talks with Maranzano (where Maranzano apologized for the attack) Luciano agreed to kill Masseria for the second in command position on Maranzano’s gang. On April 15, 1931 Luciano hired gunmen entered a restaurant and shot Masseria while he ate dinner. Luciano, who accompanied Masseria, had convientiantly left the table for the restroom as the gunmen entered. With Masseria out, the Castellammarese War ended and Salvatore Maranzano declared himself the “Boss of Bosses” and Lucky took his spot as his second in command.
Maranzano didn’t hesitate in reorganizing the gangs in New York. He established five different gangs, he called “families” and appointed a boss for each family. Maranzano appointed Luciano the new boss of the Masseria family renaming it the Luciano Family. In an effort to make sure his family was the strongest, Maranzano also whittled down many of the rackets each former gang had built up and transferred them to his own family. Luciano recognized this but in reality he was biding his time before he made a move for Maranzano. As it turns out he wouldn’t wait long. In early September of the same year Luciano and his second in command Vito Genovese learned of a plot by Maranzano to have them killed. On September 10, 1931 when Luciano and Genovese were asked to meet with Maranzano, Luciano sent five Jewish gangsters posing as FBI agents to Maranzano’s office instead. Maranzano was stabbed and shot before being thrown out of his office window. Several Maranzano soldiers were also found slain that day as Luciano made sure there would be no one powerful enough to stand up against him.With Maranzano dead, Lucky Luciano became the most powerful mobster in the United States.
Shortly after taking control of New York, Luciano called the leaders of each family in New York and twenty-one other families across the country to a meeting. There Luciano unveiled his creation, a governing body that would lead all of the families across the country. Several of the larger families would get a seat at the table to aid in settling disputes between families, defining territories, and the induction of “made men”. He called this panel “The Commission”.