Eric Holder

Press Conference on Organized Crime Arrests

delivered 20 January 2011, Brooklyn, NY

Audio AR-XE of Address


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

*Good morning, and thank you all for being here.


Today I’m joined by several key leaders, and partners, in our work to combat organized crime -- Janice Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Division; Daniel Petrole, Acting Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Labor; Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Paul Fishman, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey; Peter F. Neronha, United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island; and Ray Kelly, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department.*


We are pleased today to announce an important step forward in our nation’s ongoing fight against the organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra -- the mafia.


Today, more than 800 federal, state, and local law enforcement officials have arrested over 110 individuals, including dozens of La Cosa Nostra members and associates -- one in Italy. In total, 127 people have been charged in 16 indictments unsealed today in four districts in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.


This is one of the largest single-day operations against the mafia in the FBI’s history, both in terms of the number of defendants arrested and charged, and the scope of the criminal activity that is alleged. Defendants from numerous La Cosa Nostra families have been charged, including defendants from all five New York-based families: the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese families.


We have charged mob associates and mob bosses alike, including the former boss of La Cosa Nostra operations in New England; the Street Boss, Acting Underboss, and Consigliere of the Colombo family; and the Gambino family Consigliere and a member of that family’s ruling panel.


Their alleged crimes include numerous violent and illegal acts -- from murder and narcotics trafficking to extortion, illegal gambling, arson, loan sharking, and labor racketeering.


Now, some allegations involve classic mob hits to eliminate perceived rivals. Others involve truly senseless murders. In one instance, a victim was allegedly shot and killed during a botched robbery attempt. And two other murder victims allegedly were shot in a public bar because of a dispute over a spilled drink.


Other charged criminal activity reflects the mafia’s continued influence in various economic sectors and its alleged schemes to steal money by preying on vulnerable Americans. One fraud scheme carried out by the Colombo crime family allegedly defrauded consumers with poor credit histories out of one-time payments that the consumers believed they were making to secure loans. Other charges allege that the crime families extorted money from various labor union members, including local -- local chapters, local unions of International Longshoremen’s Association, and a concrete union here in New York.


Now, today’s arrests mark an important and encouraging step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra’s operations. But the reality is that our battle against organized crime enterprises is far from over. This is an ongoing effort and it must, and will, remain a top priority for all of us in law enforcement. Members and associates of La Cosa Nostra are among the most dangerous criminals in our country. The very oath of allegiance sworn by these mafia members during their initiation ceremony binds them to a life of crime.


Now, as we’ve seen for decades criminal mafia operations can negatively impact our economy -- not only through a wide variety of fraud schemes but also through the illegal imposition of what in essence are mob “taxes” at our ports, in our construction industries, and on our small businesses. In some cases, La Cosa Nostra members and associates allegedly seek to corrupt legitimate businesses and those who have sworn to uphold the public trust. And many of them are lethal. Time and again, they have shown a willingness to kill -- to make money, to eliminate rivals, and to silence witnesses.


Now, today’s successful arrests -- across multiple cities and involving multiple mafia families -- sends a clear message that, in our fight against organized crime, the Justice Department is targeting federal resources and working with our state and local law enforcement partners like never before. We are committed and we are determined to eradicate these criminal enterprises once [and] for all and to bring their members to justice.


Now, as part of our commitment to battling organized crime, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, headed by Lanny Breuer, has announced that it is working to merge its historic Organized Crime and Racketeering Section with its Gang Unit -- a move that will bring together an elite group of prosecutors with extensive knowledge and experience in combating criminal enterprises.


In addition, due to the continued threat that these criminal organizations pose, in September of last year I issued an order directing the Department’s Criminal Division, the United States Attorneys’ Offices, and the FBI to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to effectively combat these domestic organized crime groups, as well as international criminal organizations that threaten our nation’s security.


I want to thank my colleagues in the Criminal Division, in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and in the FBI for their outstanding efforts -- and their commitment to collaboration.


Today’s actions are a reflection and a direct result of that renewed commitment. I am grateful to and proud of all of the investigators, the prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and our agency partners who were involved in today’s take-downs. This investigation and these prosecutions reflect unprecedented collaboration among four United States Attorneys Offices, the Department’s Criminal Division, and the FBI.


I want to hank you all, and congratulations on a job very well done.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

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