BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley has a colorful history in regards to the early 1920s and 30s. Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, and Pretty Boy Floyd have connections to the RGV. Many people dispute that, but there is evidence to back that up.
It was 1921, a year into Prohibition and the whole boom for that element came shortly afterwards. The Rio Grande Valley benefited well from Prohibition for a few reasons. One was Mexico; they did not have Prohibition. They had loads of alcohol and greyhound races. They also had cockfights.
That caught the eye of the Chicagoans. They said to themselves, “Hey, we don’t need to bring booze from Mexico. Let’s just go ahead and put a party town there.” That town was called Rio Rico. And it was very lucrative. They set up a dog track and houses where liquor was flowing freely. The heyday of Rio Rico was 1921 to 1923. It was also during that time Capone took over what we call “The Outfit” in Chicago.
As for proof Al Capone was actually here, do you think he signed any guest registries in any hotels with his name? No, he did not. But many of his buddies were around the Rio Grande Valley, as there are all kinds of witnesses to that fact. There were houses he supposedly built or had built during that period. One house in particular is in Weslaco.
Proof that Capone was on the border is a five peso note he signed. This was done in 1921. Pancho Villa also signed the note and had it in his possession in 1923.