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Prosecutors: Sweep cripples Gambino crime family

  • Story Highlights
  • Dozens of people face charges, ranging from money laundering to murder
  • Gambino family accused of profiting from extortion
  • Several companies allegedly paid a "mob tax," Department of Labor official says
  • Police in Italy also make 77 arrests in connection with organized crime
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A massive anti-Mafia sweep that stretched from New York to Sicily has not only cut off the head of the Gambino crime family but lopped off "the shoulders and chest" too, prosecutors said Thursday.

John "Jackie the Nose" D'Amico, shown in 1992, is one of 62 people indicted.

Sixty-two members of the Gambino, Genovese and Bonanno families face 80 charges, ranging from money laundering to illegal gambling and murder.

"These charges strike at the very core of the Gambino family," said Benton Campbell, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

The Gambino family profited from extortion within the New York construction industry and its labor unions, according to the charges. Video Watch the perp walk »

Several companies allegedly paid a "mob tax" in return for "protection" and "permission to operate," said Gordon Heddell, inspector general of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Other charges involve an alleged illegal gambling ring, said Richard Brown, Queens County district attorney.

Nicholas Corozzo -- a reputed captain in the Gambino family -- was involved in a sports gambling enterprise that relied in part on toll-free telephones, Brown alleged.

Mob Monickers

Colorful nicknames are sprinkled throughout the 170-page indictment:

• 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

Meanwhile, four members of the Gambino family are charged with eight crimes involving murder, according to the indictment.

Those charges include the felony murder of Jose Delgado Rivera, who was shot and killed in an armored truck during a robbery in 1990.

"Today we are able to bring closure to crimes from the past that have never been forgotten," Campbell said. He said the crimes span back over three decades. Video Watch feds say they've 'cut off the head' of crime family »

Key to the Gambino arrests Thursday was a member of the Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force who infiltrated the Gambino family and recorded hundred of hours of conversations, said John Milgrim, a spokesman for the attorney general.

Forty-five of those charged are already in custody, police said. Arrests were made in New York City; Long Island, New York; and New Jersey.

"It is as unrelenting as weeds that continue to sprout in the cracks of society," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said of organized crime. "We will not rest until organized crime is a distant memory."

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In addition to the arrests in the New York area, police in Italy detained 77 people in connection with organized crime.

Those arrests netted important members of a powerful clan in Sicily linked to Mafia boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo, who was believed to be the successor of the boss of bosses, Bernardo Provenzano. Video Watch the prosecutor explain why authorities acted now »

Police say that in his attempt to rise to power, Le Piccolo tried to mend fences with New York-based Mafia families after those ties were broken during the bloody Mafia wars of the 1980s. Those families included the Gambinos of New York and the Inzerillos of Italy.

Provenzano was arrested two years ago in Corleone.

"It is evident that the intent of the Mafia in Palermo was to re-establish a dialogue through the Inzerillo family in the U.S," Francesco Messineo of the Italian Police said.

"A dialogue that was never interrupted because the relationship between the American and the Italian Mafia is historic, based on long tradition. But there was certainly an attempt to re-establish that connection."

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Investigators believe mob clans wanted to collaborate on illegal commercial ventures such as money laundering and drug trafficking.

Italian officials said the arrests were aimed at preventing these illegal activities, but they warned that other Mafia clans in Sicily oppose the return of the Inzerillo family to the island, and therefore were concerned about a new Mafia war. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Deborah Feyerick and Alessio Vinci contributed to this report.

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