Federal authorities have charged 32 people, including 12 alleged mobsters and associates, with using threats to control garbage pickup routes in New York suburbs.
FBI agents arrested 30 defendants Wednesday on racketeering conspiracy, extortion and other counts during morning raids around the city and its northern suburbs, as well as in New Jersey. Two more were expected to surrender.
An indictment identifies 12 of the defendants as either official members or associates of organized crime families that have a long tradition of infiltrating and extorting trash collection companies at a cost partly borne by paying customers.
“In addition to the violence that often accompanies their schemes, the economic impact amounts to a mob tax on goods and services,” George C. Venizelos, head of New York’s FBI office, said in a statement.
Court papers allege the extortion ring controlled several trash-hauling companies in Westchester, Rockland and Nassau counties in New York, and in Bergen and Passaic counties in New Jersey. The men extorted protection money from the companies and told them which routes they could use, the papers say. If any controlled companies broke the rules or an outside company sought to offer lower prices or better service, those companies would “face threats of, and actual, force or fear of economic reprisal,” the papers say.
At a hearing on Wednesday, the defendants crowded into a Manhattan courtroom, where it appeared most would be released on bail set at $1 million and lower.
Some of the men face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of racketeering conspiracy.