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Albanian crime ring suspects arrested

From Eric Pearce

Organized Crime
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
David N. Kelley
New York

NEW YORK (CNN) -- U.S. and New York authorities said Tuesday they have arrested 20 people on federal charges in a racketeering case against a suspected violent organized crime ring led by Albanian national Alex Rudaj.

U.S. Attorney David N. Kelley told reporters that 22 members and associates of the Rudaj organization, most of whom are said to be Albanian, have been indicted on federal charges of committing numerous crimes in New York City and in Westchester County north of Manhattan.

The charges range from racketeering and attempted murder to extortion, loan sharking and operating a large-scale illegal gambling business, Kelley said.

The FBI and New York State Police arrested several suspects Tuesday after searching 13 suspected illegal gambling locations, including homes and gambling parlors, in the New York boroughs of Queens and the Bronx and in Westchester County, Kelley said.

Multiple gambling machines and at least four guns were confiscated. Two defendants remained at large, Kelley said.

Reuters reported authorities as saying the gang has been using violence and extortion to control gambling in those areas since 1993.

Rudaj, Nardion Colotti and Nikola Dedaj were charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, with leading the organization, Kelley said.

Federal officials believe the organization financed itself through its illegal gambling activities. As a result, the indictment seeks forfeiture of $5.75 million from seven defendants and $3.4 million from all 22.

Kelley's office said it believes the indictment is the first federal racketeering case in the United States against an alleged organized crime enterprise run by Albanians.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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