December 19, 2007
New Jersey police have arrested a number of members of the Lucchese crime family. In the process of breaking up a multi-billion dollar betting organization, cops discovered that the old school mafia family had also teamed up with the more street-level gang the Bloods. The two groups were working together to smuggle things like iPods, cell phones, and drugs into the East Jersey State Prison. The betting ring was fairly sophisticated, utilizing Internet sites, an 800 phone line, and personal interaction to process more than $2 billion in wagers annually. The smuggling ring was facilitated by a corrections officer who worked at the prison.
The investigation resulted in the arrest of a total of 32 people--27 in New Jersey and 5 in New York. They're facing charges that include racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy to distribute heroin, and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. It's being reported that this is the first time law enforcement has identified a formal link between one of the "Five Families," who are reputed to control organized crime, and a street gang like the Bloods. Specifically, it was the 9 Tre Gangster faction of the Bloods that was linked with the Lucchese family. The New York Times quotes NJ Attorney General Anne Milgram:
“What we have here in this case is really the realization of what we feared: connecting old-school organized crime, the Mafia, with new-school organized crime, gangs,” Ms. Milgram said. “We’ve heard anecdotes about overlap, but this is the first time we’ve had a direct link between the two organizations.”
The arrests were the conclusion of an investigation called Operation Heat, which allied Milgram with her former boss, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau.