Maier Suchowljansky (Meyer Lansky), the son of Jewish parents, was born in Grodno, Russia (now in Poland) on 4th July, 1902. The family moved to the United States in 1911 and the settled in New York. After leaving school he became an apprentice toolmaker.
In 1936 Lansky established gambling operations in Florida, New Orleans and Cuba. He was also the major investor in the Flamingo Hotel and Casino started by Bugsy Siegel in Las Vagas. He arranged Siegel's execution in June, 1947 when he became convinced that his partner was fiddling the books.
By the 1960s Lansky was involved in drug smuggling, pornography, prostitution and extortion. He had also invested heavily in legal businesses such as hotels and golf-courses. It was estimated at the time that his total holdings were worth $300,000,000.
In 1970 plans were made to arrest Lansky on suspicion of income-tax evasion. When Lansky heard the news he fled to Israel. He was eventually arrested and returned to the United States but in 1973 he was acquitted of income-tax evasion. Other charges were abandoned because of Lansky's poor health. Meyer Lansky died of lung cancer in Miami Beach, Florida, on 15th May, 1983. It has been estimated that when he died Lansky was worth over $400 million.