US charges more than 100 mob suspects
The United States on Thursday lodged charges against members of several well-known crime families operating in the northeast region after carrying out a surprise mass arrest of more than 100 suspects, dpa reported.
The charges by federal authorities include murder, murder conspiracy, loan-sharking, arson, narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery, illegal gambling and labour racketeering.
The charges were announced in Washington after federal agents and local enforcement officers made arrests earlier in a pre-dawn sweep, involving hundreds of law enforcement officers against New York's five mafia families, most of them situated in Brooklyn, in Newark, New Jersey; Providence, Rhode Island; and Boston.
"Today's arrests and charges mark an important step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra's illegal activities," US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a news conference. "This largest single day operation against La Cosa Nostra sent a message that our fight against traditional organized crime is strong, and our commitment unwavering."
La Cosa Nostra (LCN) groups seven organized crime families, including five New York-based families and those in New Jersey and Rhode Island. The US Department of Justice said 91 members and associates of the LCN have been charged for federal crimes and 36 others were charged with alleged associated criminal activities.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller said at the news conference that organized crime has continued to operate in the US and engaged in victimizing "innocent Americans."
"The costs legitimate businesses are forced to pay are ultimately borne by American consumers nationwide," Mueller said.
Crime families have been suspected of connections in the construction industry as well as shipping and waterfront activities in the US northeast. New York's Brooklyn borough has been home to some of the mob activities.
The Justice Department said 12 indictments were unsealed in Brooklyn Thursday charging 85 suspects in New York's five crime families: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese.
It said those charged included Andrew Russo and Benjamin Castellazzo and Richard Fusco of the Colombo family, and Joseph Corozzo and Bartolomeo Vernace of the Gambino family.
News reports in New York said the sweep followed a string of recent indictments against organized crime in New York and Providence.
Last week, a federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced a Colombo family member, 93-year-old John Franzese, to eight years in prison for extortion, news reports said.
The reports said the US had made impressive victories against crime families since the early 1990s, assisted in some cases by informants, including a defection of Alphonse D'Arco of New York's Luchese family. Salvatore Gravano, who defected from the Gambino family provided testimony that secured the arrest of mafia boss John Gotti.