The US authorities announced on Tuesday the arrest of practically the entire leadership of the Los Colombo mafia clan, accused of extorting a union of construction workers for two decades.
The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York reported the imputation of a total of fourteen people, including ten members or collaborators of the Colombo -including their boss- and a member of the Bonanno, two of the great families of La Cosa Nostra New York.
Of the fourteen defendants, thirteen were arrested this Tuesday – almost all in New York and New Jersey – and will appear in the next few hours by videoconference before a judge in the Big Apple, while one has not been captured for the moment.
Among those arrested are Andrew “Mush” Russo, 87, and the head of the Colombo; Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, his number two; and several “captains” and “soldiers” of the mafia group. Ralph DiMatteo, the clan’s “consigliere”, is the only defendant who for now remains on the run.
What are they accused of?
The alleged gangsters are charged with extortion, conspiracy, money laundering, drug trafficking or fraud, among other crimes.
According to prosecutors, the Colombos had been operating a plot for some twenty years to extort money from the management of a construction union to make decisions in favor of their businesses and keep part of their salaries.
The alleged criminals used various threats for this; for example, the Prosecutor’s Office highlights a call recorded last June in which one of the accused threatened to assassinate a union leader if he did not comply with his demands.
“Everything we allege in this investigation proves that history repeats itself. The support of New York’s criminal families is alive and well. These soldiers, consigliers, deputy chiefs, and chiefs are clearly not history students and do not seem to understand that we are going to catch them, “Michael Driscoll, deputy director of the FBI’s New York office, said in a note.
The family Colombo is one of the five main Italian-American mafia organizations in the northeast of the country. The other families are the Genovese, Lucchese, Gambino, and Bonanno.
The entire crime family administration, including Russo and Castellazzo, already pleaded guilty to a variety of mobster activities in 2012. Russo, convicted of crimes seven times, was last released in 2013.
The New York mob was weakened by various coups in recent years, including arrests, fratricidal fights, and competition from other criminal organizations, but they are still considered active.
The head of the Gambino clan, “Frank” Cali, was shot and killed in front of his home in New York’s Staten Island district in March 2019.