BY LARRY FREUND – More than 100 people in the northeastern United States – described as members of seven La Cosa Nostra crime families – have been arrested and charged with crimes ranging from murder to illegal gambling.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called it one of the largest single-day operations against the Mafia in the history of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI: 127 men charged with crimes including murder, arson, narcotics trafficking, extortion and illegal gambling. Holder said the men arrested in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island include leaders of the crime families as well as lower-level criminals, described as soldiers and associates.
“Today’s arrests mark an important and encouraging step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra’s operations but the reality is that our battle against organized crime enterprises is far from over,” Holder said. “This is an ongoing effort and it must and will remain a top priority for all of us in law enforcement.”
The head of the FBI’s New York office, Janice Fedarcyk, told reporters the arrests are the result of years of investigative work, including what she termed key cooperating witnesses, a trend that she said has definitely been tilting in favor of law enforcement. She said the oath of silence, a pledge traditionally taken by members of the crime families, is more myth than reality today. There were court-authorized wire taps, and thousands of conversations were recorded by what the FBI official called “cooperators.”
“We have often noted that the mob’s reason for being isn’t to do violence. But mobsters generally have little compunction about resorting to violence as a means to the end, which is making money,” Fedarcyk said. “The notion that today’s mob families are more genteel and less violent than in the past is put to lie by the charges contained in the indictments unsealed today.”
Attorney General Eric Holder said organized crime in the United States has been weakened and is probably not as nationwide in its scope as it once was. But, he went on, it is an ongoing threat.
“… a major threat to the economic well-being of this country in addition to being the violent organization that it is and therefore deserving of our attention,” Holder said.
Law enforcement officials say the early-morning Thursday arrests of the accused crime family members went smoothly, many of them taken into custody at their homes.