An investigation of the extortion of trash haulers has resulted in charges against 32 people in the New York area, federal authorities said Wednesday.
Thirty of the suspects were arrested Wednesday, and two others were expected to surrender later in the week, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the southern district of New York said in a press release.
Suspected members or associates from three different organized crime families in the New York area were among the arrested, the statement said.
The main indictment alleges 12 members of "an organized criminal enterprise" were connected to a waste disposal business that was involved with loansharking, mail and wire fraud, extortion and stolen property offenses. These 12 were charged with racketeering conspiracy charges.
Among the dozen is Carmine Franco, also known as "Papa Smurf" and "Uncle Sonny," who authorities also accuse of extortion and the interstate transportation of stolen property. The attorney's office said 77-year-old Franco is an associate of the Genovese crime family.
Seventeen others were charged with individual acts of extortion, loansharking and other crimes, the attorney's office said.
Court documents claim the suspects controlled several waste disposal businesses, including those based in New York's Westchester, Rockland and Nassau counties, and in New Jersey's Bergen and Passaic counties. The men allegedly threatened the businesses by demanding extortion payments for protection and telling them which trash pick-up stops they could use, the attorney's office said. Officials say many of the charged had avoided having any sort of official connection to the trash collection businesses they controlled.
"...While these accused mobsters may have hidden themselves behind seemingly legitimate owners of waste disposal businesses, law enforcement was able to pierce that veil through its painstaking, multi-year investigation," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
"In addition to the violence that often accompanies their schemes, the economic impact amounts to a mob tax on goods and services," George C. Venizelos, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York office, said in a statement.
The thirty arrested suspects, who are all residents of either New York or New Jersey, were expected to appear and be arraigned in a Manhattan federal court Wednesday.
The Genovese, Gambino and Luchese organized crime families have a long history of extorting trash collection companies, The Associated Press reported.
From the archives, Jan. 2011: More than 120 alleged mobsters arrested on East Coast