Big Bill Dwyer – King of Rum runners

Bill Dwyer is known to have started as an ordinary dockworker, then entered large scale bootlegging and was called ‘King of Rum runners’. He amassed huge wealth and made partners with several famous gangsters of numerous nightclubs in the city of New York. He also was the owner of football team of Brooklyn Dodgers and two professional hockey playing team which included New York Americans. During his death, he was flat broke  and nobody remembered him.

His early life

It was in 1883 at Hell’s Kitchen region of New York City’s west side  that he was born as William Vincent  Dwyer. During this time, the Gophers and Hudson Dusters had ruled the place. He avoided joining any of the gangs and took job on docks working for International Longshoremen’s Union as stevedore.

His entering the mafia world

It is this time that he started bookmaking operation. He used the money during the prohibition time to enter bootlegging business. He bought steel plated speedboats having mounted machine gun on them and numerous bigger rum running ships to offload illegal hooch.

He established ties in England, Caribbean and Canada to bring smuggled liquor into the States. He also made a system, wherein the supplier ships would provide supplies in the middle of the sea, which again was transferred to his speedboats to reach New York City shores. To achieve huge success in the bootlegging business, he also had bribed the Coast Guard and the police to look the other way. Very soon, he became the country’s largest illegal alcohol distributor.

To avoid his trucks being seized by hijackers in  hundreds, operating all over the country, he made partners with the Jewish and Italian mobsters and mafia families  and raked in millions of dollars. However, he was regarded to be more  as an entrepreneur and not a mafia. In 1924, he came across an Irish gangster named Owney Madden, also called ‘The Killer’. He called a meeting with Madden and made him his partner to take care of the hijackings. He also is known to have proposed about creating his own brew in New York City and hence, would require outlets, nightclubs, speakeasies, etc. It is from then that the Irish mob worked along with the Jewish and Italian mob for controlling bootlegging business across the country and this grouping came to know as ‘The Combine’.

Dwyer supplied money for the project, while Madden was the architect to create and nurture the empire.