Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Andrew Russo was charged with the 1993 murder of Colombo underboss Joseph Scopo. This is incorrect. Anthony Russo was charged with the crime. WNYC regrets the error.
In what the FBI is calling the largest takedown of organized crime in history, federal authorities arrested more than 100 individuals suspected of being members of New York and New Jersey's organized crime families. The suspects were charged with crimes including murder, extortion and narcotics trafficking.
Attorney General Eric Holder said authorities arrested many of the suspects in all five boroughs, as well as New Jersey and New England. He said at least 110 people were arrested, 127 people have been charged in total, from seven organized crime families.
Holder said more than 800 state, federal and local enforcement officials were involved in the investigations.
"Today's successful arrests across multiple cities and involving multiple mafia families sends a clear message that in our fight against organized crime, the Justice Department is targeting federal resources and working with our state and local partners like never before," Holder said.
Authorities said the arrests are a blow to New York's five Mafia crime families including the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese families. They say that past federal probes, aided by mob turncoats, have undermined the families' ranks and resulted in lengthy prison terms for several leaders.
Holder said some of the murders date back to the 1990s and many of the arrests involve existing corruption in the construction industry and longshoreman at ports.
Federal authorities say some murder allegations involve elimination of rivals, but others include killing two victims in a public bar because of a dispute over a spilled drink. One fraud scheme involved luring consumers into fake loans.
“Our battle against organized crime enterprises is far from over,” Holder said.
The defendants include 83-year-old Luigi Manocchio, alleged former boss of the New England LCN; Joseph Corozzo, 69, alleged consigliere of the Gambino family; and Andrew Russo, 76-year-old alleged street boss of the Colombo family. In a separate case, Anthony Russo is charged with the 1993 murder of Colombo underboss Joseph Scopo, who was shot in the passenger seat of a car in Ozone Park, Queens.
Another defendant, Bartolomeo Vernace of the Gambino family, has been charged with the 1981 double murder of Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese inside the Shamrock Bar, in Woodhaven, Queens.
Of all the crime families targeted, the largest number of defendants come from the Colombo and Gambino families, with 32 and 34, respectively. By comparison, the New England LCN and New Jersey’s Decavalcante family include two defendants each, and the Luchese family has just one.
Reporting by Arun Venugopal