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organized crime

The Kefauver Investigation and the Knapp Commission

In 1950–51, the crime-investigating committee of Sen. Estes Kefauver revealed that organized crime, albeit under new leadership, was still operating. Perhaps a more alarming aspect brought to light by the committee was the aura of respectability achieved by top racketeers who, by removing themselves from direct contact with criminal activities and maintaining legitimate business fronts, had insulated themselves from criminal prosecution. The Kefauver investigation led to a flurry of law-enforcement activity, particularly attempts to deport foreign-born crime kings such as Luciano.

In Nov., 1957, a routine police check in remote Apalachin, N.Y., uncovered a convention of gangland leaders from all over the United States and abroad. The resulting rash of investigations revealed the power and extensive operations of organized crime. The inadequacy and inability of local law-enforcement agencies to cope with organized crime was underscored by the Knapp Commission, which uncovered relations between New York City police and organized crime. The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (1967) estimated that twice as much money was made by organized crime as by all other types of criminal activity combined.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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