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Gangsters in St. Paul: Overview

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John Dillinger, 1934.

The 18th Amendment, Prohibition, made the manufacture, sale, transport, import, or export of alcoholic beverages illegal. This created a vacuum that was filled by the unlawful production, sale, and control of "bootlegged" products and lawless allied activities: smuggling, gambling, prostitution, extortion, robbery, and murder. These became the province of organized crime and of powerful crime lords like  Al Capone. 

Lawlessness and the corruption of officials and police — the unintended consequences of Prohibition — infected many American cities, including St. Paul. The city became a center of operation and a haven for such notorious gangsters as John Dillinger, Babyface Nelson, Roger "the Terrible" Touhy, Machine Gun Kelly, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, and the Barker gang, whose activities extended to robbing banks, holding up mail trucks and trains, and kidnapping and holding hostages for ransom.

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