FBI, police arrest more than 110 mafia suspects in northeastern U.S.

08:10, January 21, 2011      

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More than 110 suspects, including organized crime members and associates, were arrested on Thursday in one of the largest such operations ever in the United States, officials said.

The crimes they were charged with ranged from murder and narcotics trafficking to extortion, illegal gambling, arson, loan sharking, and labor racketeering.

"We are pleased to announce an important step forward in our nation's ongoing fight against the organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra -- the mafia," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters at the Department of Justice's Eastern District of New York in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

"More than 800 federal, state and local law enforcement officials have arrested over 110 individuals, including dozens of La Cosa Nostra members and associates," he said. "In total, 127 people have been charged in 16 indictments unsealed today in four districts in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island."

"This is one of the largest single-day operations against the mafia in the FBI's history, both in terms of the number of defendants arrested and charged, and the scope of the criminal activity alleged," the government's top lawyer said.

He said those arrested came from all five New York-based mafia groups, the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese families.

Mob bosses and associates arrested included "the former boss of La Cosa Nostra operations in New England; the Street Boss, Acting Underboss, and Consigliere of the Colombo family; and the Gambino family Consigliere and a member of that family's ruling panel," Holder said.

The New York Times Thursday quoted sources briefed on the raids as saying "charges against roughly two-thirds of the defendants were lodged" in Brooklyn federal court.

The alleged crimes involved "classic mob hits" and "senseless murders," the attorney general said.

"In one instance, a victim allegedly was shot and killed during a botched robbery attempt and two other murder victims allegedly were shot dead in a public bar, because of a dispute over a spilled drink," he said, in an apparent reference to a 1980s shooting in an Irish bar in the New York City borough of Queens.

Holder went on to explain the alleged criminal activities of organized crime affect various economic sectors.

As an example, he said there were alleged schemes to steal money "by preying on vulnerable Americans," including one by the Colombo crime family allegedly to defraud consumers with poor credit histories out of payments they believed were to secure loans.

Other charges alleged crime families'extorted money from labor union members, including the International Longshoremen's Association, and a concrete union in New York City.

While the arrests Thursday were an "encouraging, step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra's operations," the attorney general said, "Our battle against organized crime enterprises is far from over."

He said it remains a top priority, adding, "Members and associates of La Cosa Nostra are among the most dangerous criminals in our country. The very oath of allegiance sworn by these mafia members during their initiation ceremony binds them to a life of crime."

Source: Xinhua

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