Nineteen mafia suspects were arrested early Wednesday as part of a joint operation between Italian police and the FBI’s New York bureau, officials in Italy said.
Their investigation revealed strong links between the Sicilian mafia of Palermo (known as Cosa Nostra) and American organized crime families — particularly the Gambino crime family of New York, Italian police said.
The operation, codenamed ”New Connection,” involved more than 200 officers in Palermo and New York City.
Eighteen suspects were detained in Sicily and one suspect was detained in New York. Charges included association with organized crime, extortion, and fraudulent transfer of valuable goods.
Around $3.36 million worth of real estate and other assets were confiscated by Italian authorities.
Investigations also revealed how pervasive the influence of the mafia is in the Sicilian town of Passo Rigano.
According to Italian police, the mafia not only engages in extortion there, but also has a large role in the town’s legal economy — with its involvement in business such as wholesale food supplies, online betting and gambling.