What Was The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre?

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According to Wikipedia, “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” is the name given to the 1929 Valentine’s Day murder of six mob associates and one mechanic from the North Side Irish gang led by George “Bugs” Moran during the Prohibition Era.   It was the result of a power struggle between the Irish American gang and the South Side Italian gang led by Al Capone in order to take control of organized crime in Chicago. 

Former members of the Egan’s Rats gang were also suspected of having played a significant role in the incident, assisting Capone.

Al Capone sought to consolidate control by eliminating his rivals in the illegal trades of bootlegging, gambling and prostitution, according to the History channel.

Moran was one of Capone’s longtime enemies, and the gang members were shot to death by several men dressed as policemen. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, as it was known, was never officially linked to Capone, but he was generally considered to have been responsible for the murders, according to The History Channel.

Over the years, Capone consolidated control over most of Chicago’s crime rackets by ruthlessly gunning down his rivals. In 1924, authorities counted some 16 gang-related murders; in 1929, it reached a high of 64 murders that year. Federal authorities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had much less jurisdiction than they have today, and did not include Chicago’s gang-related activity.

Moran ran his bootlegging operations out of a garage on the North Side of Chicago. On February 14th, the seven members of Moran’s operation were gunned down while standing lined up, facing the wall of the garage.

Some 70 rounds of ammunition were fired. When police officers from Chicago’s 36th District arrived, they found one gang member, Frank Gusenberg, barely alive. In the few minutes before he died, they pressed him to reveal what had happened, but Gusenberg wouldn’t talk.

Police could find only a few eyewitnesses, but eventually concluded that gunmen dressed as police officers had entered the garage and pretended to be arresting the men.

Though Moran and others immediately blamed the massacre on Capone’s gang, the famous gangster himself claimed to have been at his home in Florida at the time. No one was ever brought to trial for the murders.

Capone went to prison due to income tax evasion. The U.S. Treasury Department later launched an investigation of Capone for income tax evasion. Through forensic accounting, Special Agent Frank Wilson and other members of the Intelligence Unit of the Internal Revenue Service were able to put together a case, and in June 1931 Capone was indicted for evasion of federal income tax. Convicted that October after an internationally publicized trial, Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison, first in Atlanta and later at Alcatraz.

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