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During the 1930s Hoover persistently denied the existence of organized crime, even while there were numerous shootings as a result of Mafia control of and competition over the Prohibition-created black-market.While Hoover had fought bank-robbing gangsters in the 1930s, anti-communism was a bigger focus for him after World War II, as the Cold War developed. In the 1950s, evidence of Hoover's unwillingness to focus FBI resources on the Mafia became grist for the media and his many detractors.Its concentration on the topic fluctuated in subsequent decades, but it never again merely ignored this category of crime.
Melvin Purvis was a prime example: Purvis was one of the most effective agents in capturing and breaking up 1930s gangs, and it is alleged that Hoover maneuvered him out of the Bureau because he was envious of the substantial public recognition Purvis received.In 1935, the Bureau of Investigation was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).In 1939, the FBI became pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence, thanks in large part to changes made by Hoover, such as expanding and combining fingerprint files in the Identification Division, to compile the largest collection of fingerprints to date, and Hoover's help to expand the FBI's recruitment and create the FBI Laboratory, a division established in 1932 to examine and analyze evidence found by the FBI.During the 1940s through mid-1950s, he seemed to ignore organized crime of the type that ran vice rackets such as drugs, prostitution, and extortion. The Apalachin Meeting of late 1957 embarrassed the FBI by proving on newspaper front pages that a nationwide Mafia syndicate thrived unimpeded by the nation's "top cops".Hoover immediately changed tack, and during the next five years, the FBI investigated organized crime heavily.
Hoover was credited with several highly publicized captures or shootings of outlaws and bank robbers, even though he was not present at the events.