Graceland’s Purple Gang – Lupton Michigan

The Purple Gang, also known as the Sugar House Gang, was a mob of bootleggers and hijackers, with predominantly Jewish members. They operated out of Detroit, Michigan in the 1920’s.

Detroit was a predecessor to Prohibition, because Michigan adopted a state law, the Damon Act of 1916, which prohibited liquor effective in 1917. Henry Ford, who owned the River Rouge plant, was a proponent in advocating a sober workforce. Due to Detroit’s convenient proximity to Canada and Ohio, several bootleggers and individuals traveled toward Toledo to obtain booze; judges took a lenient view of offenders, and in 1919 the Damon Act was declared unconstitutional. However, in 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment was adopted, and prohibition took effect throughout the United States. Canada became a major port for running alcohol products because the Canadian federal government approved and licensed distilleries and breweries to manufacture, distribute, and export alcohol.

By the late 1920’s, The Purple Gang reigned supreme over the Detroit underworld, controlling the city’s vice, gambling, liquor, and drug trade. They also ran the local wire service, providing horse racing information to local horse betting parlors and handbooks. The gang members cavorted with some more infamous mobsters, branching out into other cities, as well. Abe Bernstein was a friend of Meyer Lansky and Joe Adonis, with whom he owned several Miami gambling casinos in his later years. The gang hijacked prizefight films and forced movie theaters to show the films for a high fee. They also defrauded insurance companies by staging fake accidents. The Purple Gang controlled and operated most of the illicit and semi-illicit activities in the area as there were no known gangs or mobs in Detroit.

The Detroit Mob & The Purple Gang English Documentary part 1, by Mario Fahrnen

Purple Gang English Documentary part 2, by Mario Fahrnen

Purple Gang English Documentary part 3, by Mario Fahrnen

Purple Gang English Documentary part4, by Mario Fahrnen

Purple Gang English Documentary part 5, by Mario Fahrnen

Purple Gang English Documentary part 6, by Mario Fahrnen