Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gambino Crime Family Charged with Sex Trafficking, Other Crimes

According to a Department of Justice Press Release:

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and GEORGE VENIZELOS, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), announced today the arrest of 14 members and associates of the Gambino Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra (the "Gambino Family") on charges including racketeering, murder, sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, jury tampering, extortion, assault, narcotics trafficking, wire fraud, loansharking, and illegal gambling.

DANIEL MARINO is a longtime member and is currently a Boss of the Gambino Family. In that capacity, MARINO has over 200 fully-inducted or "made" mafia members under his command, as well as hundreds of associates who commit crimes with and for the mafia. THOMAS OREFICE and ONOFRIO MODICA are currently Soldiers of the Gambino Family acting under MARINO's supervision. OREFICE and MODICA each supervise crews that include DOMINICK DIFIORE, ANTHONY MANZELLA, MICHAEL SCOTTO, MICHAEL SCARPACI, THOMAS SCARPACI, DAVID EISLER, and SALVATORE BORGIA, all of whom are charged with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. The indictment also charges other individuals who committed crimes with and for the Gambino Family, including STEVE MAIURRO, KEITH DELLITALIA, SUZANNE PORCELLI, and ANTHONY VECCHIONE.

In addition to the racketeering charges, the defendants are charged with [among other crimes]

Sex Trafficking and Sex Trafficking of a Minor

OREFICE, DIFIORE, MANZELLA, SCOTTO, EISLER, MAIURRO, and PORCELLI are charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking of a minor. From 2008 to 2009, the defendants operated a prostitution business where young women and girls—including an underage girl who was 15 years old at the time—were exploited and sold for sex. The defendants first recruited various young women and girls—ages 15 through 19—to work as prostitutes. The defendants then advertised the prostitution business on Craigslist and other websites. The defendants drove the women to appointments in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Staten Island to have sex with clients. The defendants then took approximately 50 percent of the money paid to the young women. The defendants also made the women available for sex to gamblers at a weekly, high-stakes poker games that OREFICE and his crew ran. . .

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: "As today's case demonstrates, the mafia is not dead. It is alive and kicking. Modern mobsters may be less colorful, less flamboyant, and less glamorous than some of their predecessors, but they are still terrorizing businesses, using baseball bats, and putting people in the hospital. Today, the Gambino Family has lost one of its leaders, and many of its rising stars have now fallen. We will continue to work with our partners at the FBI to eradicate the mafia, and to keep organized crime from victimizing the businesses, and the people, of this city."

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge GEORGE VENIZELOS stated: "In some ways, this is not the Gambino Family of John J. Gotti. But while the leadership may maintain a lower profile, this case shows that it's still about making money illegally, by whatever means. No crime seemed too depraved to be exploited if it was a money-maker, including the sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old. In truth, despite the popular fascination, it was never really about the thousand-dollar suits. It was—and is—about murder, mayhem, and money."

Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. Mr. BHARARA also noted that the investigation is continuing.

Assistant United States Attorneys ELIE HONIG, STEVE KWOK, and JASON HERNANDEZ are in charge of the prosecution. The case is being handled by the Office's Organized Crime Unit.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Read the Full Press Release.


As the press release explicitly states, all actors named in this case have not been convicted and are presumed innocent. Also, while this case may highlight more sensational aspects of trafficking, it's important to keep in mind that there is no one face of traffickers, and many if not most traffickers are not involved in organized criminal syndicates. Nevertheless, I am excited to see this case for two main reasons. First, assembling prosecutable trafficking cases is extremely difficult. I am pleased to see sex trafficking charges included with the other charges and to see the trafficking aspect of the case explicitly acknowledged. Also, as this case shows, other criminal activity such as racketeering often occurs in conjuncture with trafficking, which can be a useful avenue to pursue for both criminal cases and civil litigation on behalf of survivors when trafficking charges themselves may not hold up. Second, this case is an important reminder that the United States is not exempt from human trafficking, including human trafficking cases involving organized crime. This reminder is quite timely as we await the soon to be released US State Department's 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report where the US will include a rating for itself for the first time.

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