The National Crime Syndicate was the name given by the press to a loosely organized, multi-ethnic organized crime syndicate. Its origins are uncertain.
According to writers on organized crime, the Syndicate was founded or established at a May 1929 conference in Atlantic City, attended by leading underworld figures throughout the country, including Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, Johnny "The Fox" Torrio, Frank Costello, Joe Adonis, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Dutch Schultz, Abner "Longy" Zwillman, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, Vince Mangano, gambler Frank Erickson, Frank Scalice and Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia. Others describe the Atlantic City meeting as a coordination and strategy conference for bootleggers.
As revealed by the findings of U.S. Senate Special Committee in the 1950s chaired by Estes Kefauver, it was described as a confederation of mainly Italian and Jewish organized crime groups throughout the U.S.
The supposed enforcement arm of the Syndicate was what the media dubbed Murder, Inc., a gang of Brooklyn thugs who carried out murders in the 1930s and 1940s for various crime bosses. It was headed by Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro and Anastasia, who reported to commission members Lepke and Adonis. It included many infamous mobsters such as Bugsy Siegel.
In his 1991 biography of Meyer Lansky, Little Man, journalist Robert Lacey argues that no National Crime Syndicate ever existed. " The idea of a National Crime Syndicate is often confused with the mafia. Yet they are not the same thing."
The demise of the organization is as uncertain as its origins. By the late 1940s, Murder Inc. and most of its non-Italian components were defunct. Some individuals, such as Meyer Lansky, continued to operate as affiliantes of Italian groups.