A coordinated raid by the Italian police and the FBI in the United States resulted in the arrest of 19 people belonging to a mafia clan seeking to reestablish its powerbase in Palermo after being pushed out of the island and exiled to the United States in the 1980’s.
Some 200 police officers were involved in the operation code-named “New Connection” which highlighted “the strong link established between Cosa Nostra in Palermo and American organised crime, in particular with the powerful Gambino crime family of New York” The police said in a statement.
Among those arrested – 18 in Palermo and one in the United States – are representatives of the Gambino and Inzerillo clans, the latter having been decimated by the Corleonesi of the infamous Salvatore “Toto” Riina. The bloody mafia war of the 1980s forced the Inzerillo family to flee to the United States, but the death in prison of the boss Salvatore Riina in 2017 presented an opportunity for the Inzerillo clan to try to reclaim their former territory, with the help of their New York’s allies, the Gambinos.
Nicknamed “the fugitives” by police, the arrested suspects face charges of mafia association and extortion. Property, assets and shares worth approximately three million euros were confiscated during raids on addresses in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia and Palermo. Video surveillance released by police showed Thomas Gambino, the son of the alleged gangster Joseph Gambino, discussing the sale of land in the Dominican Republic. Among those detained was Salvatore Gambino, the mayor of a village near Palermo, and Tommaso and Francesco Inzerillo, close relatives of Salvatore Inzerillo who was killed by Riina in 1981.
Police said the arrests were a good way to mark the 27th anniversary of the death of Paolo Borsellino, the anti-mafia judge murdered on the orders of Toto Riina on July 19, 1992, two months after his colleague Giovanni Falcone.