More than 110 people associated with the mafia were arrested in raids today and charged with offenses ranging from homicide to labor racketeering, including what Attorney General Eric Holder called the “senseless murders” of two people shot and killed in a dispute over a spilled drink.
Among those rounded up by the FBI and state and local law-enforcement officials were dozens of members and associates of the La Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the American mafia, Holder said.
In all, 127 people were charged in 16 indictments unsealed in four districts in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, according to the Justice Department.
“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,” Holder said at a news conference in New York City.
“Their alleged crimes include numerous violent and illegal acts–from murder and narcotics trafficking to extortion, illegal gambling, arson, loan-sharking, and labor racketeering.”
Holder said that some of the charges involved "senseless" killings, such as the two people who were shot to death in a public bar because of the dispute over a spilled drink. In another instance, a victim was shot and killed during a botched robbery.
According to the department, some charges allege that mafia crime families extorted money from labor-union members, including some belonging to the International Longshoremen’s Association.
Holder said that the arrests and charges mark “an encouraging step forward” in disrupting organized crime, but he added that the battle is far from finished.
The Justice Department’s Criminal Division also announced it will merge its Organized Crime and Racketeering Section with its Gang Unit. The move, Holder said, will bring together prosecutors with extensive knowledge and experience in combating criminal enterprises.
“We are committed, and we are determined, to eradicate these criminal enterprises once and for all and to bring their members to justice,” he said.