ALEXANDRIA, La. – (WNTZ) – When Prohibition swept across the United States in 1920, outlawing the production, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages, it ushered in a clandestine era of moonshine, speakeasies, and criminal enterprises. Louisiana, with its vibrant culture and tradition of spirited revelry, played a significant role in the nation’s bootlegging history. Here, we delve into the lives and legacies of some of the most prolific bootleggers in the Pelican State.
- Isadore “Kid Cann” Blumenfeld – Born in New Orleans in 1900, Kid Cann became infamous for his involvement in organized crime during Prohibition. While he is more closely associated with bootlegging operations in Minneapolis, his roots in the Crescent City are well-known. Kid Cann’s bootlegging empire stretched across state lines, making him a formidable figure in the world of illegal alcohol distribution.
- Sylvestro “Silver Dollar Sam” Carollo – A New Orleans native, Silver Dollar Sam was a prominent bootlegger and crime boss during the Prohibition era. He ran a sprawling criminal network that included speakeasies, gambling dens, and bootlegging operations. Carollo’s influence extended beyond Prohibition, as he became a central figure in the New Orleans underworld for decades.
- Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone – While not a Louisiana native, Al Capone’s criminal empire reached the state’s borders. The infamous Chicago gangster had connections in Louisiana and was involved in bootlegging activities that stretched into the southern states. His influence on the state’s criminal landscape was significant during the Prohibition era.
- Egan’s Rats – Led by the notorious Edward J. Egan, this gang operated out of New Orleans and was heavily involved in bootlegging, gambling, and other illegal activities. Egan’s Rats controlled various speakeasies and gained notoriety for their criminal exploits during Prohibition.
- The DeRidder Clan – In the western part of Louisiana, the DeRidder family was known for its moonshine production. Operating from the piney woods of Beauregard Parish, they produced large quantities of homemade liquor, often referred to as “white lightning.” The family’s moonshine was in high demand, and they became legendary bootleggers in the region.
- The North Louisiana Moonshiners – In the rural areas of North Louisiana, particularly in the piney woods and backcountry, numerous moonshiners operated secret stills. These individuals crafted homemade whiskey and eluded authorities for years, becoming folk heroes in their communities.
While Prohibition ended in 1933, the legacy of these bootlegging pioneers lives on in the tales, legends, and lore of Louisiana. Their defiance of the law and their entrepreneurial spirit during a tumultuous time continue to captivate the imagination and remind us of the enduring cultural impact of the Prohibition era in the Pelican State.