More than 200 Italian cops and FBI agents from the bureau’s New York City office on Wednesday launched a coordinated crackdown on a Sicilian Mafia clan with ties to the Gambino crime family, according to reports.
Eighteen suspects were rounded up in Palermo, Sicily, during the operation codenamed “New Connection,” CBS News reported.
One suspect was detained in the Big Apple, according to CNN.
Among those collared were Thomas Gambino, deemed by the FBI to be an important member of the New York-based crime family, and Salvatore Gambino, the mayor of a village near Palermo, according to Reuters.
The joint effort revealed strong ties between Sicily’s Cosa Nostra – whose boss of bosses Salvatore “Toto” Riina of the Corleone clan died in prison in 2017 – and US organized crime families, the news outlet reported, citing Italian police.
In the 1980s, Riina had launched a ferocious Mafia war in Sicily, chasing the Inzerillo family out of its stronghold in the Palermo suburb of Passo di Rigano and into self-imposed exile in the US.
The family has since sought to reclaim its old business, police said, helped by influential allies in New York, according to Reuters.
Also arrested were Tommaso and Francesco Inzerillo, close relatives of Salvatore Inzerillo, who was killed by Riina in 1981, according to Reuters.
The investigation “has registered the strong bond established between Cosa Nostra Palermo and US organized crime,” particularly the Gambino clan, a police statement said.
The Gambinos are one of the five historic Italian-American Mafia families in New York. The reported crime boss of the family, Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, was gunned down in March in front of his Todt Hill home on Staten Island — a killing that deeply alarmed the Inzerillo clan.
Italian police said the suspects arrested on Wednesday face multiple charges, including membership of the Mafia, aggravated extortion, fraud and “unfair competition.”
About $3.36 million worth of real estate and other assets were confiscated by Italian police on Wednesday.
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