Italian police working with the FBI cracked down on a Palermo-area Mafia clan with ties to the U.S.-based Gambino organized crime family in New York.
Authorities said that around 200 officers – including FBI agents – swept across Sicily and the New York area Wednesday, arresting 18 suspects in Italy and one in the United States.
Palermo Police Chief Renato Cortese said that members of the Sicilian Passo di Rigano crime society had settled in the U.S. in the 1980s after surviving a turf war with the Corleone crime clan, which emerged victorious over the Inzerillo crime family in the Palermo area.
Some survivors apparently returned to Italy after the weakening of the long-dominant Corleone crime family. Salvatore “Toto” Riina, the Corleone clan chieftain, died in an Italian prison in 2017.
Officials fear the Mafia is planning to revert to its notorious past as the exiled mobsters who fled Sicily returned in the early 2000s in order to revitalize their clan. Italian reports suggest that Francesco Inzerillo, 63, returned to Sicily by Mafia leaders after being forced to leave the U.S.
The suspects are being investigated for fraud and involvement in businesses ranging from wholesale foods, gambling and online betting, according to the BBC. They face allegations including mafia membership, extortion and unfair competition.
Authorities stated officers followed the two families constantly, keeping eyes on them day and night.
The Gambino family in New York is considered to be one of the five historic Italian-U.S. clans, and was run by John Gotti before he was jailed in 1992. After his incarceration, the Gambino family went into decline.
Fox News’ Morgan Cheung and the Associated Press contributed to this report.