At a press conference in Brooklyn this morning, Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the overnight raids that targeted more than 100 alleged members of some of the area’s most notorious organized crime families.
“Today’s arrests are important and encouraging towards disrupting their operations, but the reality is the battle against organized crime is far from over,” Holder said. “This is an ongoing effort, and will remain a top priority for all of us in law enforcement.”
A massive collaboration between different law enforcement organizations culminated early this morning in the arrest and indictment of members of the La Cosa Nostra crime family, a network that encompasses several different crime families.
The charges spanned two decades and ranged from murder–one indictment detailed a man being killed over a spilled drink–to narcotics trafficking to extortion, what assistant director of the FBI’s New York Division Janice Fedarcyck called “the traditional stock and trade of the La Cosa Nostra.”
Holder and Fedarcyck stressed that most of the crimes stemmed from the singular goal of making money.
Some of the indictments related to the Colombo family’s alleged control of the Cement and Concrete Workers Union Local 6A, while others detailed the Gambino and Genovese families’ practice of extorting money from longshoremen, including large shares of their Christmas bonuses. Fedarcyck said the cumulative value of the alleged crimes likely reaches into “many millions of dollars annually.”
“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 for taking money,” Fedarcyck said. “The notion that today’s mob families are more genteel or less violent than in the past is put to the lie by the charges and indictments unsealed today.”
The indictments strike at all levels of the mob hierarchy, from second-in-command “underbosses” to rank and file “soldiers”. Fedarcyck warned of the regenerative power of the mob, noting that an arrested boss tends to be replaced rapidly. This makes a sweeping approach more effective than piecemeal arrests.
The scope of today’s arrests attests to an intensive process of gathering data from undercover informants and federally authorized wiretaps. The operation recruited over 800 law enforcement officials from different regional branches of the FBI, the NYPD, the Suffolk County Police Department, the Department of Labor, and several other organizations. Holder called the scale of the operation “unprecedented,” part of a continuing effort to make organized crime a priority for the Department of Justice.
The Colombo family and Gambino families accounted for 34 indictments each. Thirteen members of the Genovese family were indicted, along with three members of the Bonanno family, two members each of the New England LCN and the Decavalcante Family, and one member of the Luchese family.