Federal agents conducted a series of early morning raids Thursday targeting at least five organized crime families in a major sweep across New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, according to sources with direct knowledge of the case.
One hundred-twenty seven people connected to the Gambino, Colombo, Bonanno, Genovese and Lucchese families have been charged with murder conspiracy, arson, extortion, narcotics trafficking, illegal gambling, labor racketeering and murders that date back as far as 1981, the sources said.
One hundred ten of those people -- including several high-ranking family members -- have already been arrested, the source said.
Television images showed several men handcuffed and hand-checked by federal agents in an apparent gymnasium in the Fort Hamilton neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
Last April, 14 members of the Gambino crime family -- including Daniel Marino, who was then considered the family head -- pleaded guilty to charges that include murder, racketeering, extortion and prostitution of minors, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of Manhattan.
The arrests come amid concerns about a possible resurgence of organized crime in the region despite a scattered history of defections, beginning with acting crime boss of the Lucchese family, Alphonse D'Arco, who admitted to "cooperating with the Federal Government" starting in 1991.
Gambino family underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano also defected in 1991, providing testimony -- in exchange for a reduced sentence -- that ultimately led to the conviction of notorious Gambino kingpin John Gotti.
Nicknamed the "Teflon Don" because prosecutors had trouble making charges against him stick, Gotti died of throat cancer in prison in 2002.
But the notion of an organized crime revival is the subject of debate.
"Their leadership ranks have been battered by federal and local law enforcement over the years," said James B. Jacobs, a professor at the New York University School of Law. "It's very hard to see to how they could have ever reconstituted in the way they were before."
Jacobs said Thursday's raid is probably the "biggest single day's netting (of organized crime members) that I know of."