This article was last modified on October 15, 2019.


Pimp and Pusher William Kenneth Higgins (c1912-1978?)

William Kenneth Higgins (born c1912) and Mary Higgins (born c1913) were facing narcotics and Mann Act charges in 1950. For some reason, these charged were dropped on June 22, but quickly refiled.

On July 31, 1950, a 17-year old girl (not identified in the newspaper) testified before Commissioner Floyd Jenkins that the Higgins couple had brought her from Detroit to Milwaukee for the purpose of prostitution. She further alleged that she helped them sell heroin “capsules” to a man in Milwaukee named Williams. The capsules cost 75 cents wholesale in Chicago, but could be sold retail in Milwaukee for $2 each. As many as 30 people a day would stop by the Higgins home to buy drugs, and William Higgins himself would frequently “shoot up.” The girl said she once tried to call her brother in Detroit, but Higgins caught her, slapped the phone out of her hand and threatened her if she tried to leave.

The case finally made it to trial the following summer. William Higgins pleaded guilty on June 20, 1951 to the narcotics and prostitution charges. His wife pleaded guilty to a narcotics charge, while she was not charged with the prostitution offense. On June 29, Judge Robert Tehan sentenced William to 15 years in federal prison, and Mary to 10 years. Tehan said the case had no mitigating circumstances, and the newspaper claimed that William had been arrested 23 times since 1935, mostly for narcotics.

While the case attracted relatively little attention, it did make its way to government reports on narcotics the following year: “Higgins and his wife were reported to be the largest and most persistent peddlers of narcotic drugs in the Milwaukee area. Although the amount of narcotics seized in this case was not large, the investigation revealed that the Higgins’ had started many young persons using narcotics and had induced young girls to enter the prostitution racket. They had transported such girls between Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee.”

William Higgins may have passed away in 1978. I have not yet verified this, as “William Higgins” is a fairly common name.

(Note: This information came from newspapers in LaCrosse and Madison; I have not checked Milwaukee newspapers or court records or FBI files yet.)

Also try another article under Organized Crime
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

One Response to “Pimp and Pusher William Kenneth Higgins (c1912-1978?)”

  1. Drew Hunkins Says:

    Fascinating stub Gavin.

    As I’m sure you’re aware, Iceberg Slim (author of “Pimp”) got his start in the pimping world working the north side of Milwaukee back in the 1930s. The book documents a good chunk of his time in Milw.

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