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FBI's biggest-ever mob bust shows where Mafia still holds sway

FBI and local law enforcement arrests 127 people allegedly connected to the Mafia, mostly in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Officials say the mob is still 'entrenched' in certain industries and has a 'pervasive' influence at ports.

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US Attorney General Eric Holder (r.) and US Attorney for New York's Southern District Preet Bharara confer at a news conference on Thursday in New York. Law-enforcement officials said more than 120 organized-crime associates face charges including murder, extortion, and narcotics trafficking in the largest Mafia crackdown in FBI history.

Bebeto Matthews/AP

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Even by New York mafia prosecution standards, the haul of alleged mobsters arrested on Thursday morning by law-enforcement officials was eye-popping.

A gigantic dragnet of 800 police or FBI officials arrested 127 individuals who were either "made members" of La Cosa Nostra or associated with it, according to federal indictments. To avoid clogging the courts, the accused mobsters were processed at an Army base. The FBI calls it one of the biggest single day operations in its history and the largest ever against the Mafia.

Those pulled in included Bartolomeo Vernace, who reportedly sits on organized crime’s “Ruling Panel,” that arbitrates interfamily spats. The haul also included the head of the Colombo Family and 34 members of the Gambino Family. Those arrested included “consiglieres” as well as captains, soldiers and associates.

Altogether, the arrests encompassed six crime families, plus the New England Cosa Nostra which operates in Boston and Providence.

“Today’s arrests and charges mark an important step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra’s illegal activities,” said Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, in a press conference in New York.

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