SA’s alcohol ban: What we can learn from past alcohol prohibitions

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Al Capone, the gangster and so-called ruler of the Chicago underworld, signs a Bail Bond, signalling the beginning of his prosecution for failure to pay significant income tax. To the left of the picture are Dwight H. Green and Samuel G. Clawson, the two prosecuting Assistant US Attorneys who claim that their case is watertight. Picture: Hulton-Deutsch/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images
Al Capone, the gangster and so-called ruler of the Chicago underworld, signs a Bail Bond, signalling the beginning of his prosecution for failure to pay significant income tax. To the left of the picture are Dwight H. Green and Samuel G. Clawson, the two prosecuting Assistant US Attorneys who claim that their case is watertight. Picture: Hulton-Deutsch/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images

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Back in the 1920s, Al Capone was a notorious gangster and bootlegger who ran the streets of Chicago in the US. He rose from being a street thug to becoming an underworld mob boss when he took advantage of the era of alcohol prohibition in the US in the 1920s and 1930s when the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcohol was outlawed.

Capone made tons of money smuggling illegally imported alcohol into the US, in defiance of the ban, wresting control of the lucrative illicit market. He was, at the height of his reign and terror, named America’s most wanted gangster by the federal government.

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