U.S. and Italian law enforcement officials Thursday rounded up dozens of organized crime figures, including the entire leadership of New York's notorious Gambino family, in what was described by authorities here as the biggest takedown of the Mafia in recent memory.
Sixty-two people were indicted in New York on charges ranging from murder and extortion to the theft of union pension funds. Those indicted include Gambino family acting street "capo" John D'Amico and the underboss and the consigliore.
Members of the Genovese and Bonanno crime families were also arrested, but most of those indicted and nabbed were from the Gambino family once led by John Gotti, who was known as the "Dapper Don" and the "Teflon Don." The indictment names three Gambino family "captains," three acting "captains" and 16 family "soldiers" with numerous counts of racketeering and extortion, most of which carry prison sentences of up to 25 years.
The sweep is the result of a multiyear investigation that involved, among other things, an informant who infiltrated the Gambino family and provided authorities with hundreds of hours of tape-recorded conversations over a three-year period.
Authorities in Italy also announced a series of arrests of major Mafia figures in coordinated raids. The trans-Atlantic operation was called "Old Bridge." Italian magistrates signed more than two dozen arrest warrants, according to news agencies, and several top crime figures, mostly in Sicily, were in custody, the news agencies said.
The indictment details a web of organized crime activity stretching back three decades, including murders from as far back as the 1970s. It also documents the links between the Mafia and the construction industry in New York, with several of the city's largest construction firms allegedly controlled or influenced by the Gambino family and paying a "mob tax" to operate with protection. Through the construction companies, the Gambino family was able to steal union dues and pension benefits, the indictment alleges.
New York police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the sweep had managed to smash one of the Gambino family's most profitable enterprises, illegal gambling.
"The Gambino organization spilled a lot of blood in New York, and it is being held accountable," Kelly said in a statement.
"Organized crime still exists in the city and state of New York. ... It's as unrelenting as weeds that continue to sprout in the cracks of society," Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.
Colorful nicknames are sprinkled through the 170-page federal indictment of dozens of people accused of ties to the Gambino crime family, including:
- Vincent "Elmo" Amarante
- Thomas "Tommy Sneakers" Cacciopoli
- Domenico "The Greaseball" Cefalu
- John "Jackie the Nose" D'Amico
- Vincent "Vinnie Hot" Decongilio
- Joseph "Joe Gag" Gaggi
- Anthony "Buckwheat" Giammarino
- John "Johnny Red Rose" Pisano
- Richard "Fat Richie" Ranieri
- Michael "Mike the Electrician" Urciuoli