In the 19th and early 20th centuries, African-American organized crime emerged following the large-scale migration of African Americans to major cities of the Northeast, Midwest, and later the West Coast. In many of these newly established communities and neighborhoods, criminal activities such as illegal gambling (such as the numbers racket), speakeasies and bootlegging were seen in the post-World War I and Prohibition eras. Although the majority of these businesses were operated by African Americans, it is often unclear the extent to which these operations were run independently of the larger criminal organizations of the time.
Colloquially, black West Indian American criminal organizations such as the Yardies, Shower Posse or Jamaican posse may occasionally and mostly erroneously be included under the label of “African-American organized crime”, but they are usually classified as culturally and ethnically separate criminal entities from African-American crime groups (and in fact often feud with established African-American crime groups).
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