Vincent Drucci, also known as "The Schemer" (1898 – April 4, 1927), was an American mobster during Chicago's Prohibition era who served as a lieutenant under Dean O'Banion's North Side Gang and later as gang boss.
Born Vincenzo D'Ambrosio in Chicago, Illinois, very little is known about Drucci's early life other than he grew up in Chicago. One of Drucci's childhood friends was Dean O'Banion. After serving in the U.S Navy, Drucci returned to Chicago and started robbing pay telephone coin boxes.
Drucci was soon invited to join the North Side Gang, a primarily Irish-American street gang that controlled the North Side of Chicago. He lived at 3817 Osgood Street in Joliet, Illinois. Drucci gained the nickname "Schemer" for his inventive and detailed plans for committing bank robberies, kidnappings, and other crimes. With the advent of Prohibition, the North Side Gang took over the formerly legal breweries and distilleries in that part of the city and start producing bootleg alcohol. They quickly became one of the most powerful gangs in Chicago.
Laurence Bergreen, in his book, Capone: The Man and the Era, describes Drucci:
"He had a streak of recklessness and daring, and he looked the part of a gangster – tough, dark, and menacing, his expression frozen in a tragic mask topped by wild unkempt hair (and) a face to haunt the dreams of his enemies."
Known for his sharp temper, Drucci frequently served as an enforcer for the North Side Gang.
War with South Side Gang
The greatest rival to the North Side Gang was the South Side Gang, an Italian-American gang under New York mobster Johnny Torrio that controlled the South Side of Chicago. Torrio had attempted to peacefully divide bootlegging territories in Chicago among the different gangs, but O'Banion resisted Torrio's efforts and provoked him on several occasions. On November 10, 1924, South Side gunmen killed O'Banion in his Chicago floral shop. Gang leadership now fell to Hymie Weiss, who initiated a string of retaliatory attacks on the South Side Gang.
On January 25, 1925, Drucci, Hymie Weiss, and George Moran ambushed Torrio lieutenant Al Capone, shooting up Capone's car, but failing to kill him. On January 27, Drucci and the two other North Siders ambushed Torrio while he was shopping with his wife. Severely wounded, Torrio survived the attack. At one point, police brought Drucci and Weiss to Torrio's hospital bedside, but Torrio refused to identify them as the shooters. After his recovery and a short jail term, Torrio relinquished control of the South Side Gang to Capone and returned to New York City.
On May 25, Drucci, Weiss, and Moran killed South Side ally Angelo Genna. On July 8, Drucci and a second gunman murdered Anthony Genna. On November 13, they murdered Genna gunman Samuzzo Amatuna in a barber shop.
On August 10, 1926, Drucci and Weiss were ambushed by South Side gunmen on a Chicago street; both men were uninjured. On August 15, Drucci and Weiss escaped another assassination attempt in Chicago. In retaliation, the North Side Gang conducted a massive raid on the Cicero, Illinois hotel that Capone owned and lived in. Although shaken up by the attack, Capone was unhurt. On October 11, South Side gunmen finally succeeded in killing Weiss outside of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. Drucci and Moran now assumed leadership of the North Side Gang.
After Weiss' shooting, Drucci and Moran attended a peace conference with all the Chicago gangs, including the South Siders. Although Moran wanted to keep fighting, Drucci persuaded him to accept a ceasefire. However, on April 3, 1927, Drucci decided to take the offensive by ransacking the office of an alderman aligned with the South Side Gang. The Chicago Police Department Chief then ordered his men to arrest all North Side gang members on sight.
On April 4, 1927, Chicago police stopped Drucci and two other North Side gang members. When they discovered Drucci was carrying a firearm, they arrested him. Four policemen were assigned to transport Drucci to the courthouse, where Drucci's lawyer was waiting to post bail. As the men entered the police car, Drucci told Chicago detective Dan Healy to let go of his arm and cursed at him. Healy struck Drucci and brandished his weapon. The enraged Drucci continued to threaten and taunt Healy:
"Go on you kid copper, I’ll fix you for this. Take your gun off and I’ll kick hell out of you."
Finally, Drucci struck Healy and tried to get his gun. Healy then fired at Drucci, hitting him in the arm, leg, and abdomen. Drucci died on the way to the hospital.
Drucci received a lavish funeral at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois that was typical gangland fashion at the time. Drucci's silver casket cost $10,000 and more than $30,000 in flowers adorned the funeral rooms.
The war between the North and South Side gangs continued until the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day massacre, which effectively destroyed the North Side Gang. Capone and the South Side Gang, to be known as the Chicago Outfit, took over the North Side of Chicago and became the pre-eminent criminal organization in that city.