Houston crime family

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Houston Family
Founded by Ollie Quinn
Founding location Galveston, Texas, United States
Years active 1900s–1954
Territory Greater Houston and most of Texas. Also parts of western Louisiana.
Ethnicity people of Italian descent, specifically descending from Sicily.
Criminal activities prostitution, drug trafficking, fraud, money laundering, illegal gambling
Rivals Various Houston area gangs, as well as gangs in Dallas and Austin.

The Houston crime family, often labeled as the Houston mob, Galveston Island mob or simply Island Mob was an Italian-American organized crime family centered in the Houston area, and beginning in the resort town of Galveston, Texas, just south of Houston. The family is credited as being influential in the development of Galveston Island into a resort town. The family reached its peak of power during the 1920s during the prohibition, where Sam Maceo led the family to control the illegal distribution of alcohol, prostitution, as well as gambling.



After the 1900 Galveston hurricane, the crime in Galveston Island first dates back to the early 1900s when Ollie Quinn, with his partner Dutch Voight, led the Beach Gang. They rivaled the Downtown Gang, in which they handled most of the organized criminal activity that took place in the island.[1]

The aftermath of the hurricane attracted many Italian-born immigrants, much that originally settled in Leesville, Louisiana. Sam Maceo was among the immigrants that ended up on the island. Quinn began mentoring Sam Maceo, and his brother Rosario Maceo.

Rise of the Maceo family

After the alcohol prohibition in the United States, Maceo began bootlegging alcohol across the island. With increasing money and power, the family started dominating centers of drinking, gambling, and prostitution. The Maceos quickly took over the island, and began taking over the Houston area. They created what was then known as the Free State of Galveston. At the family's peak, they controlled the narcotic distribution all the way up to northern Dallas.[2]


As the prohibition ended in the United States, Galveston remained a resort town.


  1. ^ Cartwright (1998), pg. 209–210.
  2. ^ Boyle, Hal (24 April 1947). "Sam Maceo is the Kindly King of Texas Gambling Realm". The Free-Lance Star (Fredericksburg, Virginia). 
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