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The Detroit River representing the border between Ontario Canada and the United States is one of the busiest waterways in the world with freighters bringing iron ore from Michigans Upper Peninsula to the bustling automobile factories of the Motor City Timber barges from northern Michigan and Wisconsin pass through the narrow waterway which separates Windsor Canada and Detroit Michigan en route to Lake Erie and the East Coast and hordes of recreational boaters and weekend fishermen use the river for their pleasure In the winter traffic on the narrow flow less than a mile across in some places comes to a halt as the river freezes over During Prohibition rumrunners and bootleggers used the frozen river as an easy way to get booze from Canada into the United States From Detroit liquor went to Chicago where Capone sold it under his Log Cabin label St Louis and points west It was a well-known fact that if you were bringing a load of hooch across the Detroit River that you had better show up armed to the teeth Because in the 1920s Detroit belonged to the Purple Gang a group of killers and thugs as vicious and bloodthirsty as any racketeer in New York or Chicago The Purples ran the rackets in Detroit for much of the 1920s and early 30s until the Syndicate boys from back east moved in and wrested control from a gang that had seen its numbers decimated by infighting and prosecution Detroit may not have been New York but make no mistake the Purple Gang was tough They were strong enough to tell Capone to keep his mitts off eastern Michigan and managed to hold on to control of most of the state when Scarface was at his peak US 31 which cuts the gut of Grand Rapids and runs from the top of the mitten to the Indiana border was the territorial line West of 31 was Capones territory
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