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Reputed mobsters rounded up in U.S., Italy

  • Story Highlights
  • Operation targets organized crime in U.S., Italy
  • Dozens in custody; others sought
  • U.S. grand jury names 62 reputed members of Gambino crime family
  • Feds say suspects involved in international drug trafficking, robbery, murder, extortion
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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, a spokesman for the attorney general of New York said.


John "Jackie the Nose" D'Amico, shown in 1992, is one of 62 Gambino crime family members indicted.

Sixty-two people from 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," Benton Campbell, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said Thursday.

According to the charges, the Gambino family profited from extortion within the New York construction industry and its labor unions. Several companies allegedly paid a "mob tax" in return for "protection" and "permission to operate," said Inspector General Hedell from the U.S. Department of Labor. Video Watch as dozens charged in anti-mafia sweep »

Other charges involve an alleged illegal gambling ring, said Richard Brown, Queens County District Attorney. Brown alleged that Nicholas Corozzo, a reputed captain in the Gambino family, was involved in a sports gambling enterprise that relied, in part, on toll-free telephones.

According to the indictment, four members of the Gambino family are charged with eight crimes involving murder. Those charges include the 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," said Campbell. He said crimes span over three decades.

Key to the Gambino arrests was someone from the attorney general's Organized Crime Task Force who infiltrated the Gambino family and recorded hundreds of hours of conversations, said John Milgrim, a spokesman for the attorney general.

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

They not only cut off the head of the organization but "the shoulders and chest" too, said Milgrim.

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

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

Francesco Gratteri of the Italian National Anti-Crime Police said they arrested 23 in Palermo, the rest in New York.

These arrests were of important members of a powerful clan in Sicily linked to mafia boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo, who was believed to be the successor to the boss of bosses, Bernardo Provenzano, police said.

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

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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.," said Francesco Messineo of the Italian police. "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."

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

Deborah Feyerick in New York and Alessio Vinci in Rome contibuted to this report.

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