The FBI and the New York Police Department took down “Papa Smurf,” “Uncle Sonny,” “Joe Cali,” and several other mobsters related to three major crime families.
Authorities made over 30 arrests in an operation known to the government as “The Waste Disposal Enterprise.”
Police said the mobsters masked their schemes through their waste disposal business throughout five suburban areas across New York and New Jersey.
“The indictments show the ongoing threat posed by mob families and their criminal associates. In addition to the violence that often accompanies their schemes, the economic impact amounts to a mob tax on goods and services. The arrests – the culmination of a long and thorough investigation – also show the ongoing determination of the FBI to diminishing the influence of La Cosa Nostra,” said George C. Venizelos, the FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge.
“Organized crime still wraps its tentacles around industries it has fed off for decades,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “But law enforcement continues to pry loose its grip. Here, as described in the indictments, organized crime insinuated itself into the waste disposal industry throughout a vast swath of counties in New York and New Jersey, and the tactics they used to exert and maintain their control come right out of the Mafia playbook — extortion, intimidation, and threats of violence.”
Some of the mobsters arrested avoided connection to the waste disposal business because they were either not licensed or banned from the industry. However, several others were identified as “controlled owners” of waste disposal companies.
Among those arrested was Carmine Franco who owned and controlled several waste disposal businesses over the past 30 years.
“Franco extorted the proceeds of those businesses from the Controlled Owners , directed and participated in the theft and interstate transportation of property associated with those businesses” and met with other members of the criminal enterprise,” authorities reported.
Police also believe that the mobsters came together for communal “sit-downs” to discuss who took possession and interest in a particular business.
One of the mobsters even served in a government capacity.
Forty-four-year-old Mario Velez served as a New York State Trooper and a high school resource counselor all while allegedly committing extortion.
The defendants face charges of racketeering, extortion, mail and wire fraud as well as conspiracy to transport stolen property.