WEST ORANGE, N.J. - Authorities said yesterday that they broke up a major organized crime ring that took in $2.2 billion in gambling bets and supplied drugs and cell phones to street-gang members in a New Jersey state prison, prosecutors said.
State Attorney General Anne Milgram said the arrests of two ruling members of the New York-based Lucchese organized crime family and 30 others puts a major dent in the criminal operation.
"With today's arrests and charges, we have disrupted the highest echelon of the Lucchese organized crime family in both New York and New Jersey," Milgram said. "Disruption of the command structure of an organization is the most effective way to disable it."
Among those arrested were two of the family's three reputed New York bosses, along with a capo in New Jersey and the capo's three sons.
"This has to be one of the biggest [mob takedowns] we've ever done," Milgram said yesterday.
The massive gambling operation included bets on professional and college sports, greyhound racing, and the suspects' own illegal lottery, Milgram said.
Tens of thousands of wagers were placed primarily through the Internet or toll-free telephone numbers, authorities said. Simply placing a bet is not illegal in New Jersey; no gamblers were charged.
The operation involved both old-time gangsters and new-generation gang members, Milgram said. "This is the first time we have a direct link between the two organizations," she said, calling the partnership "the realization of our fears."
In this case, Milgram said, the mobsters were working with a top boss of the 9 Tre Gangsters, a subset of the Bloods street gang, to smuggle drugs and prepaid cell phones into East Jersey State Prison in Woodbridge.
A prison guard accused of delivering the drugs and phones, supplied by Lucchese associates, to inmates was among those arrested yesterday.