Early Morning Raid Results in 30 Arrests for Extortion of Garbage Collection
FBI agents arrested 30 out of a total of 32 defendants during morning raids around New York City and its northern suburbs, as well as New Jersey, on Wednesday on racketeering conspiracy, extortion and several other counts.
Defendants include a dozen alleged mobsters and their associates who are alleged to have used threats of violence and shakedowns to control garbage pickup routes in New York City’s suburbs. An indictment identifies 12 of the defendants as either official members or associates of the Genovese, Gambino, and Luchese organized crime families. These crime families have a long tradition of infiltrating and extorting trash collection companies at a cost that is partly borne by paying customers.
The indictment and other court documents allege the extortion ring controlled several trash hauling companies in Westchester, Rockland, and Nassau counties in New York, and in Bergen and Passaic counties in New Jersey. The men extorted protection money from the companies and told them which routes they could use. If any of the companies broke the rules or an outside company sought to compete by offering lowering prices or better service, those companies would “face threats of, and actual force or fear of economic reprisal.”
For instances, two defendants, upset that they were not getting their illicit cut of hauling fees quickly enough, stole a garbage truck and kept it until they were paid. In another example, the men swiped garbage containers from a competitor in New York and repainted them for use by a mob-controlled hauler in New Jersey.
George C. Venizelos, head of New York’s FBI office, said in a statement, “in addition to the violence that often accompanies their schemes, the economic impact amounts to a mob tax on goods and services.”
The investigation also lead to separate conspiracy charges against three defendants who are alleged to have bought hundreds of thousands of contraband cigarettes from a government cooperator in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Two others were also charged with transporting stolen goods, specifically a hot dog cart that was ripped off in Orangeburg, New York.
Most of the men were released on bail of $1 million or less by Wednesday afternoon; however, some of the men could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the racketeering conspiracy charges.