Skip to main content


The Chicago 'Outfit:' Traditional Chicago Organized Crime from its Earliest Roots to Operation Family Secrets

Arthur Bilek is the Executive Director of the Chicago Crime Commission, a civilian “watchdog” agency that has monitored organized crime activity in Chicago since 1919. Art served under Cook County Sheriff Richard B. Ogilvie in a key investigative role from 1962–1966, and is the author of two books: The First Vice Lord, a biography of James Colosimo; and The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. A recognized authority on the mob and its inner workings, Art will discuss the history of the Outfit from its earliest days through the defining government prosecutions of the 1990s and the recent "Operation Family Secrets" that has significantly crippled operations locally.

This lecture is part of "Crime in Chicago—A Contemporary and Historical Perspective." This fall, the Chicago History Museum turns the spotlight on crime in Chicago, probing the historic linkage between street gangs then and now with a concentrated focus on “traditional” vs. “nontraditional” organized crime. Is the Chicago “Outfit” still relevant, and where does this criminal organization forged in the early years of the 20th century stand today? Do street gangs constitute the new face of organized crime? The three-part series will also examine 19th century Chicago homicide patterns and what it reveals about the city during its formative years.

Recorded November 8, 2011 at the Chicago History Museum.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.