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US and Italy join forces against the mafia

Latest update : 2008-02-08

US and Italy police arrested more than 80 suspects in a massive operation targeting three of New York's mafia ruling families, the Gambino, Genovese and Bonanno. They were indicted on charges of murder and racketeering among others.

US and Italian authorities launched a massive operation against the New York and Sicilian Mafia Thursday, arresting more than 80 suspects in a sweep described as a major blow against organized crime.
   
Prosecutors in New York unveiled a 170-page indictment against 62 individuals detailing murder, racketeering, loan sharking, conspiracy, drugs and extortion charges for crimes going back as far as the 1970s.
   
The sweep netted 61 alleged members of three of the five families that run the Mafia in New York -- the Gambino, Genovese, and Bonanno families.
   
Among those facing charges were top Gambino leaders including acting boss John D'Amico, also known as "Jackie the Nose," acting underboss Domenico "The Greaseball" Cefalu and consigliere Joseph "Miserable" Corozzo.
   
"These charges strike at the very core of the Gambino family, targeting its leadership and illicit profits," US Attorney Benton Campbell said, unveiling the charges in New York.
   
"Today we serve notice that anyone who aspires to a position in organized crime will meet the same fate," he added.
   
Every member of the Gambino crime family administration not already behind bars was charged in the indictment, according to prosecutors.
   
The Gambino family was at the center of the so-called Pizza Connection trial in the 1980s, one of the largest criminal cases in US history.
   
"This is an obviously very large indictment. I think it'll have significant ramifications," said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
   
"You never can say that organized crime's wiped out -- they're very resilient, they come back, they're very tenacious -- but this is a major blow."
   
Those charged faced jail terms of up to 20 years on each count of their indictments if convicted, officials said.
   
Deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, John Pistole, warned that the Mafia remained a major threat, despite Thursday's sweep.
   
"Today's arrests will be a major setback for the Gambino crime family, but it is a fallacy to suggest that La Cosa Nostra is no longer a threat to public safety," he said. "Organized crime in New York is not dead."
   
Italian deputy police commissioner Francesco Gratteri meanwhile confirmed that 20 people were arrested in the Sicilian capital Palermo.
   
Another three people were served arrest warrants in jail where they were already serving time for unrelated crimes, he said.
   
The latest raids came three months after the arrest of Mafia supremo Salvatore Lo Piccolo in Sicily last November, in a move described by Italian authorities as decapitating the crime families there.
   
Lo Piccolo's arrest came just a year and a half after his predecessor as the "boss of bosses," Bernardo Provenzano, was taken into custody.
   
They were reportedly betrayed by one of Lo Piccolo's closest lieutenants, Francesco Franzese, who was arrested last August.
   
Nicknamed Cosa Nostra, or "Our Thing," the Mafia controls Sicily's economy as well as its political affairs.
   
Among hundreds of killings blamed on the Cosa Nostra were the assassinations in Italy of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992.
 

Date created : 2008-02-08

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