SIXTEEN men allegedly working with the Gambino crime family have been arrested and accused of targeting New York trash and demolition contractors.
It is the latest arrest in a centuries-old drama involving the “Five Families,” who are believed to be behind crimes such as extortion, money laundering, prostitution and fraud.
Last Wednesday, federal authorities announced in a Brooklyn court that 10 U.S. defendants had been indicted for allegedly extorting two New York business owners.
According to the indictment, the alleged gangsters initiated a plan to use forceful threats and physical assaults to obtain “no-show” positions and benefits in demolition work and trash pickup New York Post reported.
Six Italian citizens were also named as defendants after FBI investigators and Italian police investigated them for years, the indictment says.
Since the arrests, officers have been spotted at a horse farm in Orange County, New York, owned by someone with the same last name as one of the defendants, authorities said News 12.
Investigators are also searching and digging for bodies believed to be related to the investigation, police officials said NBC News.
Officials believe the defendants were part of the Gambino crime family, which had influence in the Italian-American Mafia since the early 20th century.
The Mafia began its operations clandestinely smuggling alcohol throughout New York City during the Prohibition era before moving on to dangerous street drugs and white-collar crime.
Today’s crime gang took its name from Carlo Gambino, who was the family’s boss from 1957 until his death in 1976.
The latest indictment accuses the alleged members, including Capt. Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Lanni, 52, of targeting the Big Apple’s trash hauling and demolition industries for union benefits.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, they used violence and threats to intimidate leaders into paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Officials say the scheme began in late 2017 when the suspected gangsters contacted the owners of two unidentified businesses about extortion payments.
Diego “Danny” Tantillo, 48, allegedly targeted John Doe 1, the owner of a garbage company, by regularly visiting his home, damaging his trucks and threatening to hurt him, the indictment says.
During a cash exchange, the victim was handing out $1,000 when Tantillo produced a metal baseball bat and said it was for him, according to the documents.
Over the years, the alleged gangsters also sent victims photos of their businesses to show they had stopped by.
According to investigators, attacks increased when targeted business owners stopped making payments in 2020.
One day, when his wife and child were alone, the stairs of John Doe’s house were set on fire, and one night the tires of garbage trucks deflated.
On Oct. 29, an employee of the unidentified demolition company was hit with a hammer to send a message to the owner, court documents said.
The beating brought in more money for the owners, who often worked together, but the payments stopped flowing the following month, according to the indictment.
Tantillo allegedly wanted $40,000 and had one of his lackeys beat up one of the owners in midtown Manhattan when he wouldn’t pay.
The attack left the owner with black eyes and a bloody face.
He paid $50,000 and gave discounts worth $3.9 million to the Gambino family, federal officials allege.
The 10 U.S. citizens named in the documents include Lanni, Tantillo, Robert Brooke, 55, Salvatore DiLorenzo, 66, Angelo “Fifi” Gradilone, 57, Kyle “Twin” Johnson, 46, James LaForte, 46, Vincent “Vinny Slick Minsquero, 36, Vito “Vi” Rappa, 46, and Francesco “Uncle Ciccio” Vicari, 46.
All US defendants live in New York City and the surrounding area.
Officials said they were still looking for another suspect.
The defendants were charged with conspiracy, extortion, witness retaliation, fraud and embezzlement, among other things.
Nine of the alleged gangsters pleaded not guilty to the crimes.
Lanni, Johnson, Tantillo and Gradilone were denied bail after prosecutors argued they could become violent toward witnesses.
Only DiLorenzo was released on $500,000 bail.
Last week, Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said, “Today’s arrests reflect the commitment of this office and our law enforcement partners here and abroad to protect our communities through the complete dismantling of organized crime.” “
The history of the Gambino family was recently highlighted in a Netflix documentary called “How to Become a Mob Boss.”