Good morning, and thank you all for being here.
Today I’m joined by several key leaders, and partners, in our work to combat organized crime – Janice Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Division; Daniel Petrole, Acting Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Labor; Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Paul Fishman, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey; Peter F. Neronha, United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island; and Ray Kelly, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department.
We are pleased to announce an important step forward in our nation’s ongoing fight against the organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra – the mafia.
Today, more than 800 federal, state and local law enforcement officials have arrested over 110 individuals, including dozens of La Cosa Nostra members and associates. In total, 127 people have been charged in 16 indictments unsealed today in four districts in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
This is one of the largest single-day operations against the mafia in the FBI’s history, both in terms of the number of defendants arrested and charged, and the scope of the criminal activity alleged. Defendants from numerous La Cosa Nostra families have been charged, including defendants from all five New York-based families: the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese families.
We have charged mob associates and mob bosses alike, including the former boss of La Cosa Nostra operations in New England; the Street Boss, Acting Underboss, and Consigliere of the Colombo family; and the Gambino family Consigliere and a member of that family’s ruling panel.
Their alleged crimes include numerous violent and illegal acts – from murder and narcotics trafficking to extortion, illegal gambling, arson, loan sharking, and labor racketeering.
Some allegations involve classic mob hits to eliminate perceived rivals. Others involve senseless murders. In one instance, a victim allegedly was shot and killed during a botched robbery attempt. And two other murder victims allegedly were shot dead in a public bar, because of a dispute over a spilled drink.
Other charged criminal activity reflects the mafia’s continued influence in various economic sectors, and its alleged schemes to steal money by preying on vulnerable Americans. One fraud scheme carried out by the Colombo crime family allegedly defrauded consumers with poor credit histories out of one-time payments that the consumers believed they were making to secure loans. Other charges allege that the crime families’ extorted money from various labor union members, including some belonging to the International Longshoremen’s Association, and a concrete union in New York.
Today’s arrests mark an important, and encouraging, step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra’s operations. But our battle against organized crime enterprises is far from over. This is an ongoing effort and it must, and will, remain a top priority. Members and associates of La Cosa Nostra are among the most dangerous criminals in our country. The very oath of allegiance sworn by these mafia members during their initiation ceremony binds them to a life of crime.
As we’ve seen for decades, criminal mafia operations can negatively impact our economy – not only through a wide array of fraud schemes but also through the illegal imposition of mob “taxes” at our ports, in our construction industries, and on our small businesses. In some cases, La Cosa Nostra members and associates allegedly seek to corrupt legitimate businesses and those who have sworn to uphold the public trust. And many of them are lethal. Time and again, they have shown a willingness to kill – to make money, to eliminate rivals, and to silence witnesses.
Today’s successful arrests – across multiple cities and involving multiple mafia families – send a clear message that, in our fight against organized crime, the Justice Department is targeting federal resources and working with our state and local law enforcement partners like never before. We are committed – and determined – to eradicate these criminal enterprises once and for all and to bring their members to justice.
As part of our commitment to battling organized crime, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division has announced that it is working to merge its historic Organized Crime and Racketeering Section with its Gang Unit – a move that will bring together an elite group of prosecutors with extensive knowledge and experience in combating criminal enterprises.
In addition, due to the continued threat that these criminal organizations pose, in September of last year I issued an order directing the Department’s Criminal Division, our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and the FBI to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to effectively combat these domestic organized crime groups, as well as international criminal organizations that threaten our nation’s security. I want to thank my colleagues in the Criminal Division, in our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and in the FBI for their outstanding efforts – and their commitment to collaboration.
Today’s actions are a reflection – and a direct result – of that renewed commitment. I am grateful to, and proud of, all of the investigators, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and agency partners involved in today’s take-down. This investigation and prosecution reflects unprecedented collaboration among four U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Department’s Criminal Division, and the FBI. Thank you all, and congratulations on a job well done.
And, now, I’d like to turn things over to Assistant Director Fedarcyk.