The Enforcers: Izzy and Moe

In the shadow of Prohibition, the speak easy became the popular form of underground entertainment.In the midst of the roaring twenties a pair of prohibiton detectives worked to bring down this illegal activity. Their names were Izzadore Einstein and Moe Smith
Izzy was a Postal clerk and Moe was a cigar store owner when the 18th amendment took effect. They both traded in their former lives and became detectives. In 1920 Izzy went to the Prohibition bureau and begged them to give him a job. After he was given a job he went out and entered a speak-easy and ordered a drink, after he received the drink he busted the speak-easy. This was the first of many arrests to come. A few months later he was teamed with Moe Smith and the rest became history. They worked in NYC for 5 years to enforce a law that was not very popular and ignored by many. Their arrest record of 4392, 5 million bottles of liquor confinscated and conviction record of 95% atest to their dedication.

Their Record of Busts and Seizures

The pair worked from 1920 until 1925, during that time they were setting the standard all over the country on how to enforce a law. This was a remarkable feat for just 2 officers which is why they were noticed by law enforcement officials, newspapers and bootleggers alike. Law enforcement officers and their officials didn't like them because they felt they were making a mockery of the agencies and keeping bribe money out of their pockets. While other officers could be bribed to look the other way, bootleggers lost money because the pair couldn't be bribed. The exploits that made them famous were creative and one of a kind.The newspapers loved them because their crazy antics made great news. They would often go out in disguise which could be anything from a Yiddish couple to Texas Ranchers enter a bar and order a drink, when the drink arrived they would pour it into a funnel in there pocket and then tell the bar tender it was a sad sad day and bust the place.Another was when Moe jumped into freezing water so Izzy could rush him into a speakeasy and say give a freezing man a drink then they busted the bar. Izzy being a funny man, once even sang a song in a German Beer Garden before he shut it down. They even dressed as muddy football players to arrest an icecream vendor who sold more out of his cart then icecream. Even after all the arrests and convictions,the only club the couldn't bust was the 21 Club. The ending of their career in 1925 was questionable. Was it early retirement or reorganization? The question remains today.

What is indisputable is the conclusion, ratified by the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement (better known as The Wickersham Commission Report on Alcohol Prohibition) that "prohibition cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of the States and the active support of public opinion. This cooperation has been and still is sadly lacking in many States." Izzy and Moe were the victims of this lack of public support.

links about the 1920's