127 face charges after Mafia raids
A total of 127 defendants have been named in 16 indictments in the US after one of the largest Mafia takedowns in FBI history.
Among those arrested in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island were union officials, two former police officers and a suspect in Italy.
High-ranking members of the Gambino and Colombo crime families and the reputed former boss of organised crime in New England also were named in the indictment.
The arrest sheets listed colourful nicknames - Bobby Glasses, Vinny Carwash, Jack the Whack, Johnny Cash, Junior Lollipops - and catalogued murders, extortion, arson, drug dealing and other crimes dating back three decades.
Other charges include corruption among dockworkers in New York and New Jersey who were forced to kick back a portion of their holiday bonuses to the crime families. Members of the Colombo family were also charged with extortion and fraud in their control of a cement and concrete workers union.
Past investigations have resulted in strategic strikes aimed at crippling individual crime families. This time, authorities used a shotgun approach, with 800 federal agents and police officers making scores of simultaneous arrests.
Attorney General Eric Holder called the arrests "an important and encouraging step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra's operations", but he also cautioned that the mob, while having lost some of the swagger of the "Dapper Don" John Gotti era, is known for adapting to adversity and finding new ways of making money that still harm the economy and spread fear.
In the past, the FBI has aggressively pursued and imprisoned the leadership of the city's five Italian mob families, only to see ambitious underlings fill the vacancies. However, the FBI has gained a recent advantage by cultivating a crop of mob figures willing to wear wires and testify against gangsters in exchange for leniency in their own cases.
In the latest cases, authorities say turncoats recorded thousands of conversations of suspected mobsters. Investigators also tapped their phones.