More than 800 federal, state and local agents arrested over 100 suspected mobsters today from New York City to Italy in the single largest operation against the mob in the FBI's history, officials said today.
Of the 127 people who were arrested in the northeast U.S. alone, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said 91 are suspected members or associates of La Cosa Nostra families, including 30 "made men" -- who are "among the most dangerous criminals in the country." The FBI also sent agents overseas to assist the Italian police in the arrest of a single suspect there.
The other 36 defendants were charged for "their roles in alleged associated criminal activity," a statement from the Department of Justice said.
"Today's operation marks the largest mob round-up in FBI history," Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York Division, said.
Fedarcyk the cases were "the cumulative result of years of investigative work, including the development of key cooperating witnesses -- a trend that has definitely been tipping in favor of law enforcement."
Holder, who traveled to New York to make the arrest announcement, said the operation was an "unprecedented collaboration" between four U.S. attorney offices, the FBI and various federal, state and local authorities. The massive take down was pulled off without a single incident, Fedarcyk said.
"This largest single day operation against La Cosa Nostra sends the message that our fight against traditional organized crime is strong, and our commitment is unwavering," Holder said in a statement.
In the operation, dubbed "Mafia Takedown" by the FBI, six major players were arrested, including the former boss of the New England La Cosa Nostra, a street boss for the Colombo family, and two consiglieres – suspected right hand men to mob leaders.
Colorfully-named Smaller fish like Vincenzo "Vinny Carwash" Frogiero, Frank "Meatball" Ballantoni, Anthino "Hootie" Russo, John "Johnny Bandana" Brancaccio and Michael "Jello" Kutenia were also arrested, according to court documents.
CLICK HERE to see a slideshow of the country's most notorious gangsters.
"We have charged mob bosses and mob associates alike," Holder said. "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 law enforcement partners like never before..."
"We are committed and we are determined to eradicate these criminal enterprises," he said.
The charges vary from labor racketeering, narcotics trafficking and extortion to murder. Some of the cases reach back 30 years.
"Their alleged crimes include numerous violent and illegal acts," Holder said. "Some allegations involve classic mob hits to eliminate perceived rivals. Others involve truly senseless murders."
Holder recounted three of the alleged murders -- one during a botched robbery and two others that resulted from a barroom argument over a spilled drink.
For all the progress made today, Holder said law enforcement's decades-old fight against the mob won't be ending soon.
"Today's arrests mark and important and encouraging step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra's operations, but the reality is that our battle against organized crime enterprises is far from over," he said. "This is an ongoing effort. It must be and will remain a top priority for all of us in law enforcement."