"Murder, Incorporated", or "Murder, Inc." was the name given by the press to a crime syndicate which specialized in enforcement and assasinations during the 1930s and '40s. It was used popularly to include many such gangs, but it chiefly referred to a group started by Meyer Lansky and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, a couple of prominent Jewish gangsters in New York City of that era. For the most part they worked for Jewish mob boss Louis "Lepke" Buchalter as enforcers, but they accepted murder contracts from mob bosses all over the country.
Most of the killers working for Murder, Inc. were Jewish and Italian gangsters from Brooklyn and operated largely out of Rosie Gold's Candy Store on the corner of Saratoga and Livonia Avenue. As the name might suggest, Murder, Inc. eschewed some of the ritual and tradition of the Old School Mafia families and ran it's organization strictly as a business. Members of the gang for the most part had their own criminal activities, but drew a salary on retainer to perform hits on assignment. They were frequently used to silence witnesses and kill informants.
Their most famous hit was on mob boss Dutch Schulz. In 1935, Schulz was under investigation by New York City Prosecutor Thomas Dewey for bootlegging and racketeering. He went to the the Commission, the governing body of the American Mafia, to ask permission to put a hit on Dewey. The Commission denied his request, fearing that such a hit would bring even more public scrutiny and government pressure to their operations. Dutch defied the Commission, vowing to kill Dewey himself, and so the Commission hired Murder, Inc. to take him out before he could. By accepting the contract, Louis Buchalter saved Dewey's life, and indirectly doomed his own. Dewey continued his crusade against the New York City mob, and eventually Buchalter was convicted and became the only major mob boss to be executed for murder.
Around 1940, several Murder, Inc. hatchet-men were tried and convicted of murder, and one of their top hit men, Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, turned State's Evidence and exposed much of their operation. Reles himself died shortly afterward, in 1941 after "falling out a window." The organization faded in importance, but lingered in the public's imagination.
Game and Story Use
- In a Pulp-Era campaign, Murder, Inc. would be a formidable enemy
- An NPC enemy might work as a trigger man for Murder, Inc.
- Other eras and settings could have criminal organizations run along similar lines.