While the FBI may not seem to be making great inroads into the Mexican Mafia, they continue to hammer away at the more established crime families of New York. The latest bust coming on Jan/27 with a 14 count indictment against 5 Bonnano falily members and a Gambino foot soldier.

The charges contained the usual mixture of Racketeering, Loansharking, Extortion, Illegal Gambling and Drug Distribution.

One thing that has become crystal clear over the past few years is that the FBI wants to cut the head off the world of organized crime, in days gone by they would merely go after the foot soldiers who were easy pickings, today the aim for the people at the top of the food chain.

This latest round of arrests included Vincent Badalamenti, also known as “Vinny TV”. Vinny  is a made member of the Bonanno family and more importantly a current member of the family’s administration. In fact until his arrest he was the highest ranking member of the Bonanno family not currently cooling their heels behind bars.

Also rolled up were Anthony Graziano, also known as “TG,” and Nicholas Santora, also known as “Nicky Mouth,” who are captains in the Bonanno family and former members of the Bonanno family administration.  Vito Balsamo is an acting captain in the Bonanno family, and  Anthony Calabrese is a soldier in the Bonanno family.

The sweep also brought in Gambino member James LaForte. The indictment does not explain how LaForte was involved with the Bonanno members, only that he faces some loansharking charges.

It is early days in this case but at least one organization The New York Post is suggesting that once again the FBI had help from the inside. The finger is being pointed at Hector Pagan a former Bonanno Associate turned DEA informer. Hector’s ex wife is Renee Graziano who is the daughter of Anthony Graziano, so the road map certainly exists.

What I find interesting are the ages of the people arrested. Graziano (71) and Santora (69), then Balsamo(55) and Badalamenti(53), finally Calabrese(44) and LaForte(35). In simple terms it is indicative of three generations of mobsters. While Organized Crime has never been a big feature on Career Day at school. It is becoming more and more evident that it may not be a career that lasts a lifetime! At best the hours are lousy, the benefits not great, and the food awful, because a good deal of your career is likely to be spent cooling your heels behind bars.

Simon Barrett


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