Abe Bernstein

By: Dylan Bridwell


  • Born in New York in 1892
  • Abe and his brothers moved to Detroit
  • They joined a juvenile street gang that was the precursor to the Purple Gang
  • Abe and his brothers would eventually become leaders of the Purple Gang
  • Chief supplier of Canadian whiskey to Al Capone

The Purple Gang

Also known as the Sugar House Gang, it was a violent Prohibition-era gang that gained a reputation in Detroit as ruthless and violent hijackers. Their victims were usually rum-runners and rival gangs. It was a mob of bootleggers and hijackers that operated out of Detroit in the 1920s and became Detroit's dominate criminal gang. The gang feel apart in the 1930s because of excessive violence and infighting.

Wrap Sheet

  • Murder
  • Conspiracy to extort money from the city's dry cleaners industry
  • Bootlegging and rum-running
  • Suspected of being involved in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Later Years

  • Began branching out to other major cities during the 1920s
  • Became an associate of New York mobsters Joe Adonis and Meyer Lansky
  • Became a partner in several syndicate gambling casinos in Miami
  • His brother, Ray, was imprisoned for his involvement in the "Collingwood Massacre"
  • Abe devoted the rest of his life to freeing his brother
  • Abe Bernstein died on March 7, 1968