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Mob Killer Loses Bid for FBI Investigation Docs


     (CN) - A convicted killer who stabbed a mobster to death in a 1995 revenge killing can't access a trove of FBI arrest and investigation records, a federal judge ruled.
     The May 26 ruling by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton upheld previous denials by the FBI to grant John Petrucelli access to hundreds of pages of documents, as well as photos, videos, and audio tapes.
     The ruling also stated that the Executive Office for United States Attorneys had not properly demonstrated its reliance on legal disclosure exemptions, but that Petrucelli had not demonstrated he was entitled to judgment, either.
     Petrucelli was convicted for the 1995 killing of a member of the Genovese crime family, and sentenced to life in prison. He was at the time of the murder a gang member of the Tanglewood Boys, an Italian-American crew that engaged in murder, armed robbery and bookmaking, among other offenses.
     The FBI had determined that most of the records sought were exempt from disclosure under exemptions 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E) of the Freedom of Information Act, even though the investigation into Petrucelli had been concluded.
     In 2012, the FBI released some of the electronic records to Petrucelli, but stipulated the remaining documents needed to be kept sealed because they could reveal the identity of three confidential sources.
     Petrucelli has stated in court documents that he believes two witnesses and a suspect - Joseph Defede, Sean McKiernan and Eric Tofty, respectively - were kept confidential during the case against him. But all three are now dead, so revealing their identities shouldn't matter, Petrucelli argued.
     In the ruling, Walton wrote that Petrucelli's argument didn't hold water.
     "The plaintiff offers nothing more than speculation as to both the identities of the FBI's sources and content of the information withheld," Walton wrote. "His unsupported assertions neither demonstrate his entitlement to summary judgment nor defeat the defendant's representations."
     Walton also agreed the FBI should keep secret arrest records that included a chart of investigation techniques, which Petrucelli had sought. Such charts are used for statistical reviews of FBI investigations, to see which techniques work the most often and in which circumstances.
     The FBI had sought to keep that chart - specifically the column with ratings assigned to each technique - confidential to prevent mobsters and other criminals from changing their modus operandi to avoid detection and surveillance in the future.
     Releasing documents containing information on its confidential sources could "place them and/or their families in danger" and "likely subject them to harassment or reprisal," the FBI argued, adding that such disclosures would lead to a chilling effect in future investigations involving confidential sources.
     Walton had previously denied the government's attempts to completely withhold the information. In a July 2014 decision, the judge postponed a decision to summarily deny all of Petrucelli's requests, ruling that the Executive Office for United States Attorneys had not made it clear enough whether their cited exemptions under FOIA applied to the case or if some information could be segregated and disclosed.
     In the May 26 ruling, Walton again ruled the EOUSA has not been clear in its invocation of the FOIA exemption for invasion of personal privacy.
     The office "failed to demonstrate that or explain why FOIA Exemption (C) protects not only confidential sources themselves" but also the information they furnish, Walton wrote.
     Ultimately, though, Petrucelli has no right to the documents because he has "not demonstrated that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law," Walton wrote.
     Petrucelli's arrest capped off a multi-year investigation into the Tanglewood Boys gang. The gang was for many years considered a mob "farm team," as many of its members, including the sons of several notable made men, aspired to become members of the Luchese mob family, rivals to the Genovese family.
     In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the gang lost power after its leader Darin Mazzarella became a government snitch and testified against best friend Petrucelli and several other members. During its heyday, the gang was considered a scourge in the Bronx and southern Westchester.
     In that heyday, Petrucelli allegedly became a killer.

     According to court documents, Petrucelli witnessed the murder of a fellow Tanglewood gang member by a Genovese associate, and within a few hours stabbed a cousin of the mob hit man. He was arrested for the crime in 2002 and began filing FOIA requests while in jail awaiting trial.

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Yakuza updates

Yakuza debt collector arrested for threatening taxi chief
By Tokyo Reporter on May 21, 2015No Comment
The suspect berated the victim over the non-payment of a loan
      Jiro Sato
TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Thursday announced the arrest of an organized crime member for threatening the head of a taxi firm in Nerima Ward, reports TV Asahi (May 21).
In March, Jiro Sato, 47, is alleged to have sprayed water from a plastic bottle on the head of the president while berating him over the non-payment of a loan.
Sato has reportedly denied the allegations.
Due to financial difficulties, the company resorted to borrowing funds from an organized crime group. After the incident involving Sato, the president was too frightened to return home and stayed in a hotel for over a month.

Yakuza, bosozoku members arrested for Tokyo brawl
By Tokyo Reporter on May 21, 2015No Comment
7 Yamaguchi-gumi and Dragon members were arrested for a fight that broke out near JR Akabane Station
TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of multiple organized crime and motorcycle gang members for participation in a brawl that erupted last year in Kita Ward, reports the Sankei Shimbun (May 20).
Officers took three Yamaguchi-gumi members, including 46-year-old Kiyokazu Sugiyama, and four members of the bosozoku gang Dragon into custody on charges of infliction of physical violence during a fight that broke out on a street near JR Akabane Station on the night of July 29.
Sugiyama suffered a skull fracture that required six months to heal due to being struck by an eight-kilogram wood plank. Four other participants were also injured.
All of the suspects have reportedly denied the allegations.
Police used security camera footage to identify the combatants, and are still seeking the apprehension of three other participants in the incident.
In 2013, the National Police Agency began classifying bosozoku gangs as “pseudo-yakuza” groups to better reflect the true state of their activities.
Dragon is comprised of second- and third-generation returnees from China who came to Japan after the end of World War II.
According to police, a 36-year-old member of Dragon who was arrested heads a separate group that has recently increased its activities in collecting “protection money” from shops in entertainment areas in Akabane and Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture, reports public broadcaster NHK (May 20).
Police are now strengthening efforts to ensure that further problems do not result between the two groups.

Ibaraki cops arrest yakuza member in stabbing death at hostess club
By Tokyo Reporter on January 29, 2014No Comment
TSUKUBA (TR) – Ibaraki Prefectural Police on Tuesday arrested an organized crime member in the stabbing death of a shipping company employee at a hostess club in Tsukuba City earlier this month, reports public broadcaster NHK (Jan. 28).
At 8:00 a.m., Koji Nagahama, a 41-year-old member of the Matsuba-kai organized crime group, surrendered to officers at the Chuo Police Station. The suspect, whose photo and description was released to the public on Monday, was taken into custody on murder and assault charges.
On January 18 at 10:30 p.m., the gang member is alleged to have entered Club Happiness, located in the Amakubo area, and stabbed Koji Ueno three times with a 20-centimeter kitchen knife. The victim, 42, who was seated in a lounge seat, suffered wounds to his chest. He was confirmed dead at a local hospital the following morning.
Ueno entered Club Happiness by himself at around 10:00 p.m. At the time, there were five or six groups of customers and several employees.
About 30 minutes before the incident, an eyewitness observed the victim arguing with the alleged attacker in front of another establishment.

Yamaguchi-gumi top boss sued in Nagoya court for extortion
By Tokyo Reporter on January 9, 20153 Comments
      NAGOYA (TR) – A male restaurant manager in Toyohashi City on Thursday filed a claim in Nagoya District Court against the head of the Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group for alleged extortion, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Jan. 8).
The manager is seeking 32.2 million yen in repayment and compensation from top boss Shinobu Tsukasa, 72, who is also known as Kenichi Shinoda, and two other defendants from an affiliate gang for being forced to pay approximately 24 million yen over a five-year period beginning in January of 2008.
“The mental burden that has been inflicted on this man is great,” said Ippei Watanabe, the head lawyer of the defense. “The responsibility for compensation lies with the top of the (Yamaguchi-gumi) organization.”
The funds paid were deemed to be for the protection of the business — a practice termed mikajimeryo — and exceeded one million yen per month.
An organized crime group will typically fund its operation through the collection of such money, which is then funneled upward within the gang to elite members, a process known as jonokin.
In this case, the protection money was paid to members of the Kodo-kai, which is a subsidiary of the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Revisions made to the Anti-Organized Crime Law in 2008 allow civilians to seek damages from gang members for harmful incidents in civil court.
In July of 2013, a female restaurant manager filed a similar claim seeking 17.35 million yen against Tsukasa in Nagoya District Court for alleged extortion that took place over the course of a decade. The case is still in litigation.

Yakuza members defraud Osaka firm in March 11 reconstruction scam
By Tokyo Reporter on February 7, 20131 Comment
      TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Wednesday arrested three suspects, including two members of the Yamaguchi-gumi criminal syndicate, allegedly involved in a fraud scheme related to reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Feb. 6).
In April of 2011, one month after the Tohoku area was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, Yamaguchi-gumi members Satoru Sasaki, 52, and Toshiyuki Fukai, 54, and one other suspect allegedly offered a business opportunity to the 52-year-old president of a construction company based in Osaka while posing as employees from a big-name contractor.
“We’ve got a demolition job in Miyagi Prefecture,” the suspects allegedly said while presenting business cards and a contract from the large contractor, which is listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. “In the hard-hit areas, there’s the smell of decomposing bodies which are scattered about, and local workers have fled.”
The suspects subsequently received 10 million yen from the president of the Osaka firm as a deposit during a meeting inside a coffee shop in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. They have been charged with fraud.
All three suspects have reportedly denied the allegations.

The Osaka firm assembled 30 workers for the job. But when the work never commenced, the company alerted the police. 

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Two men caught in ‘sniper van’ sentenced on weapons charges


Two men caught in Jefferson Parish last year driving a van that appeared to be outfitted for an assassin were sentenced to federal prison Thursday on weapons charges, ending a bizarre case that raised a host of questions and invoked the specter of organized crime.
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon sentenced Joseph F. Gagliano, a convicted racketeer whose father was the reputed underboss of the Marcello crime family, to 28 months for possessing an unregistered silencer and for being a felon in possession of a .22-caliber rifle the authorities found secreted in the van’s cargo area.
The driver of the so-called “sniper van,” Dominick Gullo, 73, was sentenced to five months on the unregistered silencer charge, a violation of the National Firearms Act.
Gullo, who had no previous criminal history, was credited with about four months he spent behind bars awaiting trial, meaning he has only about one month left to serve, said his attorney, Patrick Hand.
“I think he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, to a great extent,” Fallon said.
The judge said he took Gullo’s failing health into account in determining his sentence.
After several months of arguing that the federal government had no case, Gullo and Gagliano both pleaded guilty in January rather than stand trial.
If federal authorities ever determined why the men were driving the suspicious van — in which Gagliano, 55, had installed custom windows resembling gun ports — they have not made that information public. Investigators apparently were unable to link the rifle, which had a scope attached to it, to any other crimes.
“The government is of the firm belief that there was something else afoot that night,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Quinlan said.
The Ford E-250 might have gone unnoticed but for an automatic license plate reader, mounted near Orpheum Avenue and Metairie Road in Old Metairie, that flagged the vehicle’s stolen license plate in May 2014. It had been reported stolen from a woman’s car in the parking lot of an unidentified hospital, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The license-plate reader alert prompted a patrolling deputy to stop the van as Gullo pulled into his driveway on East William David Parkway shortly before midnight. Gagliano got out of the van from the passenger side but later claimed he’d never been in the vehicle. Meanwhile, Gullo reached into the glove box, seemingly searching for insurance and registration documents, before admitting to the deputy that he did not have any paperwork for the vehicle, according to court records.
Gullo then told a story about having just bought the van for $300 from a woman he met in a coffee shop on Metairie Road. He claimed he planned to meet the woman the next day to receive the vehicle’s paperwork.
As authorities were preparing to tow the van, they discovered a suspicious setup inside that prompted them to notify the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Agents found the loaded rifle under a folded piece of carpet, an 8-foot length of cannon fuse and the silencer stowed in a side compartment. Sawed-off dining room chairs had been mounted to the van’s interior in front of the apparent gun ports.
“But for the fortuitous stop of this van that night, there was other criminal activity that was afoot,” Quinlan said. “Other violence was averted because of that traffic stop.”
Gullo and Gagliano initially professed ignorance about the contents of the van. But in pleading guilty, they acknowledged Gagliano had ordered custom work on the van weeks before.
Gagliano’s defense attorney, Pat Fanning, disputed Quinlan’s claim that violence had been planned the night the van was pulled over. He said his client apparently had been in possession of the van for several months.
“I’m not sure there was any reason to believe that May 7 was the day something was going to happen, or that anything was ever going to happen,” Fanning said.
Gagliano has well-documented ties to the Marcello organized crime family, which was active in the city for decades before apparently fading into obscurity in the mid-1990s. In 1996, Gagliano pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy involving video poker machines and was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison.
Prosecutors in that case said Gagliano and others — including his late father, known as “Fat Frank,” and Anthony Carollo, the boss of the organization at the time — had used companies that functioned as Mafia fronts in an effort to infiltrate Louisiana’s budding video poker industry. The scheme, which involved a partnership among the Gambino and Genovese crime families of New York and the Marcello family of New Orleans, defrauded Bally Gaming, a supplier of video poker machines.
“The cases against traditional organized crime members that were brought in this district during most of the ’90s involved white-collar crime, as far as I can recall,” said Eddie Jordan, a former U.S. attorney in New Orleans. “Violent, neighborhood-based drug organizations that were allied with rogue elements of the police force posed a far more serious threat to public safety.”

Police: Suspected Jewel Thief Tied to Organized Crime

By Julie Carey and James Doubek

Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports on the organized crime connection to a local ring of jewelry thieves. (Published Thursday, May 14, 2015)
Fairfax police arrested a jewelry theft suspect they said may be tied to organized crime.
Jan Parchewski, 39, of the Chicago area, was charged with burglary and grand larceny May 8.
There may be as many as three accomplices who have not been arrested in connection with at least four high-end jewelry burglary thefts in Fairfax County, police said.
The burglars appear to have targeted wealthier homes, police said.
Neighbors aren't surprised that thieves could be attracted to the area.
"You look at the population here, it's diverse, it's huge," said Mike Dimmick, whose neighbor's house in Reston was broken into earlier this month. "There's a lot of wealth and people take advantage of it."
Jewelry worth $8,000 was taken from the Reston home, but a security camera helped identify a suspect.
Search warrants show a detective identified a suspect staying at a Sterling hotel. Documents allege the suspect is tied to an organized crime family in Chicago.
In a separate incident May 6, a McLean woman took her dog to the groomer. When she returned a few minutes later, two people tried to distract her from going into her home. One man asked her for the price of houses in the area, police said. Then a woman approached her and said she lost her dog. When the victim went inside, she found her jewelry missing.
Victims told police the suspects had thick, European accents. The burglaries took place in the daytime and the suspects are sophisticated, using two-way radios, authorities said.
"I'm glad that the person was arrested, and that the neighborhood can feel safer," said Debra Stoffer, another neighbor of a burglary victim.

Fairfax police are asking residents to secure jewelry collections. Police ask anyone with information to call 703-691-2131.

Man accused of plotting to extort or harm real estate mogul

PHOENIX (AP) — A Scottsdale man has been arrested for allegedly trying to hire undercover police detectives to extort or harm a real estate mogul who won a $1.2 million lawsuit against him, authorities said Friday.
Mikhail Kordonsky, 46, was taken into custody Thursday and was being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
His bond was set at $500,000 at his initial court appearance Friday. He doesn't have an attorney yet.
Court records show Kordonsky wanted to get revenge against the CEO of a large commercial real-estate investment company.
The CEO's name wasn't disclosed in court documents released Friday, but authorities said Kordonsky gave the name to undercover detectives and it was verified.
Police said Kordonsky spoke of plotting to kidnap the man, beat him with a bat and shoot him in the back of the head if he didn't pay $10 million in diamonds because they're untraceable.
Investigators also said Kordonsky claimed connections to the Bonanno crime family and to Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, a member of the Gambino crime family who's serving a federal prison sentence in Arizona.
Kordonsky also reportedly told detectives he was $200,000 in debt, but he did not say to whom, and had recently lost his liquor license.
Court documents show undercover detectives posing as hit men met Tuesday with Kordonsky and told him they could provide silencers and handguns with "clean barrels."
During the meeting, police said Kordonsky allegedly masterminded a plot in which the supposed hit men would conduct surveillance on the real estate mogul's friends and family before demanding the $10 million in diamonds in return for not harming them.

The godfather of ganja comes from a legendary Mafia family

By Toby Rogers

During Prohibition, it was booze. Then gambling, racketeering and cocaine. But today, the New York mob makes big money from an unlikely product — marijuana. And the godfather of ganja is from one of the storied names in Mafia lore: Eboli.
Silvio Eboli, 44, is the grandson of Tommy Eboli, who ruled the Genovese crime family from 1969-72, and grandnephew of Patsy Eboli, a Genovese capo and head of the what the family called the Greenwich Village Crew.
Tommy Eboli was killed, his family believes by Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, a k a the “Oddfather,” who replaced him as boss of the Genovese. Patsy, the family tells me, figured he was next, so he fled to Lagos, Nigeria, then made his way over land and by boat to Sicily, where he lived in exile.
But the Ebolis were already part of the pop-culture mafia before their fall. Actor Al Lettieri — whose sister, Jean, married Patsy — played Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo in “The Godfather.”
Lettieri had to ask Tommy Eboli for permission to take the role, and during filming, the cast and crew came over to Patsy’s house in Fort Lee, NJ, for dinner. Legend has it Al Pacino leaned over into the crib of infant Silvio and kissed the ring finger of the “little Don” as a joke.
It was a bit of foreshadowing. In 2013, during the Feast of San Gennaro, Silvio took over what was left of the Eboli crime family — forging his own enterprise outside the Genovese.
Silvio Eboli has been steadily building his marijuana-delivery empire since the 1980s. He started at the bottom, “muling” bud in from Jamaica strapped to his legs. When Rudy Giuliani cracked down on street dealing in the mid- 1990s, the rise of the marijuana home-delivery market began.
Silvio rode a bike throughout Manhattan delivering bud to customers earning $250 a day. One day Silvio met Chris Farley at a party and he introduced Silvio to others in the “Saturday Night Cast” cast, all of whom became clients of Silvio. Some of them, even the ones who branched out into big film stars, still remain in contact with Silvio and buy weed from him regularly.
Besides celebrities, Silvio delivers regularly to many professional athletes in the tri-state area. Silvio personally handles all his “star” clients orders and over time has developed deep friendships with many of them.
Silvio has recently launched a new business venture where the rich and famous he knows that have either moved out of New York or drop in for business can purchase a whole weekend or two-three day package deal that includes hotel rooms, escort girls, the type of drugs they want and invites to VIP parties. Pictures of escort girls are neatly arranged in a binder for clients to look over and select women like they would a meal off a menu.
Modal TriggerSilvio personally picks the client up at the airport in a limousine, gets them to the hotel, hands them the drugs they requested, picks them up to hit a nightclub or a party and introduces the girls to the clients.
He is really proud of what he has created and looks at himself as successful business man or a CEO, despite the blatant illegality of it all.
How much money he makes is a mystery, but he has several storage closets in Westchester filled with locked trunks of cash.
But Silvio says the best way for a mobster to wash his dirty money is to spend it, which he certainly does a lot of. When we go out to eat, sometimes he orders several dinners at once, eating just a little off each plate. Why? Silvio doesn’t like to make choices. He wants it all.
Why tell me all of it? I have come to conclusion that Silvio Eboli is blinded by pure narcissism. He wants people to know his position in the mob, to know how powerful he is — that’s why he let me follow him around as a reporter (though his brazenness does have limits — he refuses to be photographed). His personal life is the “live today, die tomorrow” mentally, the daily revolving door of escort girls and heavy drug use.
Silvio Eboli has made Eboli a name again in crime; but for how long?
Toby Rogers is the author of “The Ganja Godfather: The Untold Story of NYC’s Weed Kingpin” (Trine Day), out now.

Nine-year-old boy under 24-hour guard as 'one of the most bloodthirsty' Mafia bosses in Sicily vows to kill magistrate and 'his spawn'

The danger was confirmed by wire-tapped conversations where the mobster referred to an attack that was currently in preparation

Michael Day 
A bewildered nine-year-old in Sicily has been given the highest-possible security cover with a 24-hour armed guard and anti-bomb surveillance, after a notorious Cosa Nostra boss decided that the boy’s father – a magistrate who sent him to prison – “and all his spawn” should be obliterated.
The mobster who ordered the family to be killed is considered “one of the most bloodthirsty” in all of Sicily, according to Italian press reports. The prosecuting magistrate earned the mob boss’s wrath by foiling a plan he had to pose as a turncoat in order to avoid jail. In reality the mobster continued to manage his criminal activity and even organise a vicious vendetta against a nephew who he felt had usurped his position in the clan.
Ordering the assassination of the prosecutor, the mob boss is reported to have said: “You have to do it no matter who he’s with, and if his male child is there, all the better. His spawn shouldn’t survive, either.”
The boy’s mother and his 12-year-old sister are also considered to be at “very high risk”, by the interior ministry’s National Committee for Order and Public Security, which has provided a 24-hour armed guard and anti-bomb surveillance in the all the places they visit regularly. The plan to kill the magistrate and his family was revealed by several informers, at least one of whom is considered a reliable source.
The danger was confirmed by wire-tapped conversations between the boss and family members which referred to an attack that was currently in preparation.
Earlier this year, the suspect is said to have returned to an earlier abode to kick out his ex-wife and two children, telling them: “Get lost or I’ll slit your throats like lambs.”
Whatever the “code of honour” mobsters claim they abide by, it certainly doesn’t prevent the killing of children. This was brutally demonstrated by the deliberate (and separate) killings of two toddlers, Nicola Campolongo and Domenico Petruzzelli, in Calabria and Puglia respectively, in the first few months of 2014.
The leading Mafia writer, Corrado De Rosa, said that these killings amounted to the “umpteenth demonstration that a Mafia code of honour does not exist”.
“People often say that bosses don’t touch women or children. It’s not true,” he said.
A statement by ANM, the Italian magistrates association, said that the new danger to the magistrate and his family in Sicily showed “the daily commitment and sacrifice” made by its members.
The association expressed its “condemnation of the vile plan” and its “unconditional solidarity with its colleague and his family”.

'Ndrangheta Mafia's 'sacred cattle' under threat as Calabrian authorities order them to be destroyed

The free-roaming white cows have caused damage, ruined crops and pose a danger to traffic, but animal rights activists have launched a petition to save the animals that mobsters see as a sign of their power and influence

Michael Day 

Animal rights activists have found themselves in a unlikely alliance with ‘ndrangheta mobsters after authorities in Calabria, southern Italy, ordered the free-roaming, “sacred cattle” of the feared crime syndicate to be rounded up and destroyed.
Claudio Sammartino, the prefect of the province of Reggio Calabria, has said that white cows, most of them owned by ‘ndrangheta, should not be allowed to wander around the countryside causing damage and helping themselves to other people’s crops. The animals are also considered a danger to road traffic and railway tracks.
Mr Sammartino has said the animals that are slaughtered should be butchered and used to feed the poor and destitute in charities and soup kitchens. But local animal rights activists have formed a petition on the site calling for the slaughter to be avoided and for the animals to be transferred to enclosures where they can live undisturbed.
“Killing is a fast and easy solution in a country that does not know how to govern. Preserving the life of these animals would be the response instead of an intelligent and democratic country,” the petition reads. Local mobsters have responded in a more aggressive way to attempts to curtail the cows’ movements in the plains around the Aspromonte mountains.
Two months ago police arrested two mobsters in the town of Locri, for the suspected murder of a Calabrian doctor, Fortunato La Rosa, who was shot dead in 2005 after he complained several times about the invasion of his property by the white cows.
Fears of such violent response probably explain why an earlier edict by one of Mr Sammartino’s predecessors calling for the wild cattle to be rounded up went mostly unheeded.
Various explanations have been given for the presence of free-roaming, mafia-owned cattle in Calabria. But the newspaper Corriere della Sera said the one relating to the violent feud in 1971 between the Facchineri and Raso clans of ‘ndrangheta is given most credence. The theory says the war between the two powerful families was so all-encompassing that they completely gave up caring and managing their livestock, which from that time on began wandering around the countryside.
Since then, the white cattle, which are now thought to number around 2,000, have been left undisturbed as legends around their links to the mob have grown, with many ‘ndrangheta members seeing the animals as a sign of their power and influence.

Japanese yakuza fugitive arrested in Bangkok

Immigration authorities today arrested a fugitive yakuza gangster wanted by Japanese police after hiding for years in Thailand.
Minoru Hirata, 51, was arrested Tuesday at a golf course in Bangkok, officials said.
Hirata, who faces charges in Japan in connection with organised crime, was charged with overstaying his visa.
He has been in Thailand since September 2011.

Keeping the yakuza away from the 2020 Olympics

by Jake Adelstein

The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo should be a cause for celebration but this may depend on who you talk to.
Takajima Publishing released a book by Yoshinari Ichinomiya in June 2014 titled “2020 Black Money and the Tokyo Olympics” that portrays the event as an underworld party.
In a chapter titled “The Yakuza Olympics,” Ichinomiya discusses the alleged ties that Hidetoshi Tanaka, vice president of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), has had to organized crime in the past. It references a September 1998 photograph of Tanaka with the former head of the Sumiyoshi-kai, the second-largest yakuza group in the country, at Hotel New Otani Tokyo. The Shukan Bunshun was the first to publish the photo in February 2014.
With the author estimating that total spending on the games may reach ¥1 trillion, there’s going to be plenty of money floating around for anyone interested in a cut — including the Yamaguchi-gumi.
The Yamaguchi-gumi isn’t just an organized crime syndicate, it’s an international corporation that has been in business for 100 years. The organization is the largest yakuza syndicate in the country, counting more than 25,000 registered members at the start of 2014, according to the National Police Agency.
The syndicate owns myriad auditing firms, oversees hundreds of front operations and, more recently, even appears to be moving into the IT sector. In 2007, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the head of a Kodo-kai faction took over Yubitoma, the equivalent of Japan’s “,” gaining access to the personal data of 3.5 million people.
The syndicate is also politically connected. As I noted in my April column, “Learning valuable lessons from the yakuza?”, the Shukan Bunshun reported that education minister Hakubun Shimomura had received donations from a Yamaguchi-gumi Kodo-kai front company. The magazine also claimed that Masahiro Toyokawa, a longtime associate member of the Yamaguchi-gumi, founded one of Shimomura’s political support groups. Shimomura denied the allegations.
Politicians, however, aren’t the only ones who appear to benefit from the underworld payouts. The Yamaguchi-gumi offers their employees a few perks when they retire in exchange for loyalty. One former senior gangster, Kenji Seiriki, says that a retiring executive could expect to be paid out ¥50 million or more.
While government officials in Japan appear reluctant to confront issues relating to organized crime, the U.S. government is taking a more proactive approach.
The U.S. Treasury Department froze American-owned assets controlled by the Yamaguchi-gumi and the syndicate’s top two leaders in February 2012. On April 21, U.S. officials went one step further and announced similar measures against the Kodo-kai, the same faction linked with Shimomura.
“The Kodo-kai is known to be the most violent faction within the Yamaguchi-gumi and is headquartered in Nagoya, Japan, with about 4,000 members,” the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement announcing the sanctions. “Among other criminal activities, the Kodo-kai has conducted extortion and engaged in bribery on behalf of the Yamaguchi-gumi and has gained prominence in part for its financial muscle.”
The financial sanctions also apply to Teruaki Takeuchi, chairman of the Kodo-kai.
“Takeuchi is also linked to the Inagawa-kai syndicate, the third-largest Yakuza syndicate in Japan, through a symbolic brotherhood he shares with Kazuo Uchibori, the second-in-command of the Inagawa-kai,” the Treasury statement said. “Such brotherhoods have the power to signify alliances among yakuza syndicates.”
Takeuchi and Uchibori are both expected to take over their organizations by this time next year, police sources say. The Inagawa-kai (Tokyo) will effectively be under the Yamaguchi-gumi umbrella — just in time for 2020.
It isn’t the first time an administration has attempted to confront the Kodo-kai. In 2009, the National Police Agency declared war on the Nagoya-based syndicate, directing all departments to utilize whatever resources they had at their disposal to arrest gangsters and destroy revenue sources. Shinobu Tsukasa was head of the Kodo-kai at the time; he is now the sixth and current head of the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Tsukasa has already attracted some attention in official circles this year after a photograph mysteriously surfaced that features the Yamaguchi-gumi leader sitting alongside JOC Vice President Tanaka at a club in Nagoya in the mid-2000s. The photo was sent to a number of media outlets by an individual claiming to be an unhappy Nihon University employee. On April 23, Gendai Business reported that a right-wing newspaper had tried to publish the photograph but the publisher’s employees were assaulted after they contacted Nihon University for clarification. According to a report in the Sankei Shimbun, Tanaka claims the photo is a fake.
Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) lawmaker Yoshio Maki has recently been looking into possible links between the yakuza and the Olympics.
In education committee meetings in April, he held up several newspaper and magazine articles that included the photo of Tsukasa apparently with Tanaka, and demanded an explanation.
Maki asked Shimomura, the education minister who is also in charge of overseeing preparations for the Tokyo Games, why the government has yet to investigate the olympic committee’s possible ties to organized crime.
Shimomura pledged to investigate the claims personally and, given his alleged connections, just might be the right man for the job.
“Shimomura’s reply is just a formality,” Maki later told me. “Asking the JOC and Nihon University to investigate on their own will only produce an answer that is expected.”
We can only wait and see if Shimomura is able to get some results and keep the yakuza out of the Olympics but perhaps, as they say, “don’t hold your breath.”
Dark Side of the Rising Sun is a monthly column that takes a behind-the-scenes look at news in Japan.

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New York mobster held over cocaine smuggling ring with Italian mafia boasted to wife he ATE the heart and kidney of a rival and wanted to dissolve two others in acid, wiretaps reveal

Mainland Italian Ndrangheta crime syndicate made £44billion in a year - more than fast food chain McDonalds and Deutsche Bank made combined

Alleged broker Gregorio Gigliotti said he want to dissolve people in acid

Gang has an exceedingly violent past - one member was fed to pigs alive

Those on the run from the law known to hide in a network of secret tunnels

By Hannah Roberts In Rome For Mailonline

A savage mafia mobster arrested in New York for his part in a transcontinental cocaine trafficking network boasted to his wife that he ate the heart and kidney of a rival who owed him money, it is alleged.
Gregorio Gigliotti was the alleged U.S. broker between the Ndrangheta - Italy's richest and most brutal organized crime syndicate - the New York mafia families and the South American drug cartels.
The group's turnover is $70 billion (£44billion) a year, according to a study last year, more than Deutsche Bank and McDonald's combined.
Prosecutors allege that he was talking about eating a human being, explaining in the arrest warrant: 'He had literally eaten the organs of the person as gesture of blatant contempt to the victim.'
The mob operative seemingly modeled himself on the brutal gangsters in the film Casino, the wire taps reveal.
In another phone tap Gigliotti threatened to carry out a violent scene from the Martin Scorsese film in which two characters get beaten with baseball bats and buried alive, prosecutors claim.
'Do you remember the movie Casino?' he asked his son in a recorded conversation. 'Do you remember what happened to the two brothers? This is what I have to do to him.'
The gang member even threatened to murder his own colleagues, according to investigators in Italy.
He allegedly claimed he would make two alleged Ndrangheta members Franco and Pino Fazio who crossed him 'disappear' by 'dissolving them in acid.'
Gigliotti was angry with the brothers, who falsely made him believe that a Ndrangheta colleague had not settled a debt for a consignment of drugs purchased, prosecutors allege.
Recorded by a police wiretap in the car, Gigliotti told his wife 'He and his brother are .. the godfather must give me 35,000.
'But listen, they need to disappear.. and it will be both of them together brother will fall the ground .and the other will not understand what is happening .. and then we will see, they will be dissolved in acid. .. I will show them.. they have no shame, they will have nothing. '
The arrest warrant said: 'These words need no further explanation, revealing a disturbing personality that would push for such serious consequences for a debt of a few thousand euro.'
Subsequently, however, the relationship between Gigliotti and the Fazios continued, the investigation showed with the brothers his link to the Ndrangheta clans, it is alleged.
This level of brutality is not unusual in the group, based in Calabria, the 'toe' of Italy in the deep south. In 2013 one Ndranghetista admitted feeding a rival alive to pigs in retaliation for the murder of a godfather.
As part of a feud that had been going on since the 1950s one gangster was heard on the phone remembering: 'It was so satisfying hearing him scream. Mamma mia he could scream.
'I didn't see a f****** thing left. People say sometimes they leave something. In the end there was nothing left. Those pigs could certainly eat.'
Although the Sicilian mafia Cosa Nostra has found worldwide notoriety as the subject of the Godfather films the Ndrangheta has emerged in recent years as the most ruthless and wealthiest crime syndicate in Italy.
Based on close family ties and blood bonds, its tentacles have spread across the globe through emigration from Italy. It now has established bases in Australia, Spain and the US as well as Canada and Latin America and may have as many as 60,000 members according to a recent study.
The South American link has proved particularly useful - it is also the only one of the three main Italian mafias to do business with the South American cartels even acting as an intermediary for other mafia bosses.
Despite its international network, the roots remain obscure. Informants are rare due to close family ties. The members swear oaths for life in masonic rituals using religious symbolism and codes.
What is known is that the crime syndicate began in the mid nineteenth century as bandits who also developed organized methods of extortion and racketeering.
They later moved into kidnappings on an industrial scale, abducting wealthy businessmen or their children, from northern Italy and holding them for ransom
The group kidnapped around 600 people between the 1960s and 1990s holding many of them in caves on Aspromonte the craggy and inhospitable mountain that runs through the middle of the region. A cross on the mountain was the ransom drop point. Many of them were held for months in terrible conditions and some were never seen again, even if their relatives did pay.
The most famous was the kidnap of John Paul Getty's teenage grandson. His ear was chopped off after his grandfather refused to pay.
Billionaire former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was allegedly forced to employ a stable manager from the Sicilian mafia and pay regular bribes as a guarantee against his kidnap by the Ndrangheta.
Later the syndicate moved into the more profitable area of drugs and are now thought to control some 80 per cent of Europe's cocaine imports.
In 2006, Italy's then interior minister blamed the assassination of a Calabrian  politician on the local Ndrangheta, which he said was 'the most deep-rooted, the most powerful and the most aggressive of [Italy's] criminal organisations'.
They have also been shown to be ruthless, and insensitive even to some of the code of conduct other mafias broadly follow, such as not killing children or attacking priests.
Last year three-year-old Coco Campolongo was murdered by the Ndrangheta because his gangster grandfather was considering turning state witness.
The group go to extreme lengths to stop the police and judicial authorities from acting against them. In 2010 they planted a Yugoslavian bazooka near a courthouse in southern Italy as act of intimidation following a crack down and hundreds of arrests.
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