Sunday, April 13, 2008

Italian criminal organization grows in Australia

A report issued recently by the Italian Parliament indicates that the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta criminal society is blossoming "down under" in Australia. The Australian branch of the society, similar to the Sicilian Mafia but located in the southern region of the Italian mainland, is believed to be a key player in a global cocaine trafficking operation worth over $34 billion.

The report names several 'Ndrangheta families established in Australia, including the Sergi, Barbaro, Perre and Papalia clans. The groups reportedly arrived in the country in the 1930s. Their presence was a press sensation in the 1970s with the assassination of Donald Mackay, who was an anti-drug crusader.

Despite the Italian document, the Australian Crime Commission stands by a 1995 report by the Australian National Crime Authority, which stated that organized criminal activity was on the decline.

Peter Gotti asks for reduced sentence

Citing medical concerns, convicted racketeer Peter Gotti has asked a Brooklyn federal judge to reduce his prison term, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Gotti (right), 68, former acting boss of the Gambino Crime Family, was sentenced to 112 months for racketeering and money-laundering. Judge Frederic Block explained that he considered Gotti's physical condition when he sentenced him in 2004. Block is considering the request.

It is not clear how a reduction in the sentence will help Gotti. He is serving a concurrent 25-year sentence imposed by a Manhattan federal court. That term will not expire until after the ex-gang boss's 92nd birthday.

Bulgarian novelist executed

Georgi Stoev, author of novels depicting the activities of the Bulgarian underworld, was shot to death in front of Pliska Hotel in downtown Sofia on April 7, according to stories by and

Stoev (right) was shot in the right temple just after midday, according to authorities. The slug passed through the front of his head, exiting through his left temple. He was taken to Pirogov hospital in critical condition. He later died of his injuries. Two masked men are believed responsible for the apparent gangland execution.

The author claimed he had first-hand knowledge of Bulgarian organized crime as a former member. He indicated that his novels contained true events from the lives and careers of gang bosses. One of those bosses, Mladen Mihalev, a.k.a. Madzho (left), has agreed to be interrogated over the Stoev killing. Authorities plan to call on other underworld figures mentioned in Stoev's books.

Stoev authored a series of books titled, "BG Godfather."
The European Union has been concerned for years over Bulgaria's apparent inability to deal with rampant organized crime. Many dozens of gangland executions have occurred in public places in recent years without convictions. Before admission into the Union, Bulgaria was harshly criticized for its failure to bring a single known crime boss to justice.
This month, two senior police officials were arrested for abuse of power and revealing state secrets to crime bosses. Opposition legislators have charged that the Bulgarian Socialist government has close ties to organized crime. The London Times has called for an end to European Union funds for Bulgaria until the nation takes decisive action against crime and official corruption.

NJ rounds up 45 linked to Genovese Family

New Jersey State Police, the East Rutherford NJ Police Department and other law enforcement agencies have rounded up 45 people accused of gambling and drug distribution and believed to be operating in concert with the Genovese Crime Family, according to a story by Mark J. Bonamo of the Hackensack Chronicle. The arrests were made in raids beginning early in the morning of March 25.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli indicated at a press conference that the leaders of the group were Genovese associates. He named the following men as leaders:
  • Mark Iafelice, 49, of Edgewater;
  • Brian DiGuilmi, 48, of Emerson;
  • James W. Skinner, 69, of Allenwood;
  • James J. Skinner (James W.'s son), 40, of Hazlet.
According to Molinelli, the arrests were the result of an investigation that began in August 2007 with an informant's description of a gambling enterprise in and around Bergen County. The gambling ring, which made use of an offshore "wire room" in the Dominican Republic, is believed to have generated $1 million a month. During the raids, police seized $5 million, at least five pounds of marijuana and five vehicles.

Italian underworld blamed for tainted wine, cheese

Italian authorities have linked the production of tainted and possibly poisonous wines with the Sacra Corona Unita underworld organization, according to a story by the AFP press service.

At least 70 million liters of the wine, selling at an inexpensive price of about $3 a bottle, are believed to have been contaminated with acid, manure and other fertilizers. Twenty wine companies are being investigated. Two companies based in Taranto, Italy, and believed to be controlled by Sacra Corona Unita appear to have been the main source of the tainted drink.

Recently Italian officials had to remove mozzarella cheese from the market when dioxin levels were detected. Authorities theorize that the buffalo milk cheese was contaminated through a Camorra-related buildup of trash around the Naples area of Italy.

Judge: JoJo Corozzo needs a new lawyer

Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein decided March 27 that reputed Gambino Crime Family consigliere Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo cannot be represented at trial by his lawyer son, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Weinstein heard testimony from Salvatore Romano, a former Mafia associate, before he disqualified Joseph Corozzo Jr. from serving as his father's counsel in an upcoming racketeering trial. Many expected to hear additional testimony from Lewis Kasman, who had been like an adopted son to late Gambino boss John J. Gotti before flipping to the side of law enforcement. However, Weinstein made that unnecessary.

About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; author of Wrongly Executed?; coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime; contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime; writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.