23 busted in New Jersey mob sweep

May 8, 2008 4:33:15 PM PDT
Federal authorities spoke out about a mob sweep in the Garden State Thursday.Federal authorities have rounded-up nearly two dozen suspected members and associates of the Gambino crime family.

The case is layed out in an 82-page indictment.

The dragnet, according to federal investigators, was also successful in grabbing the Gambino crime family's highest ranking member and associates. FBI officials on Thursday characterized Andrew Merola -- also know as "Andrew Knapik" -- as a "made" member of the Gambino crime family and said he was the organization's highest ranking member in New Jersey.

They are being charged with racketeering, extortion, loan sharking and mail fraud. There are various alleged schemes, everything from gambling to purchasing merchandise at Lowes, Home Depot and Best Buy at greatly reduced prices using fake bar codes.

There were also alleged schemes to use non-union labor in a number of New Jersey construction projects.

"Indeed, a number of the crimes enriched the friends and associates and members of the organized crime families at the expense of the working class," FBI agent Weysan Dun said. "At the expense of skilled laborers who were trying to earn an honest day's wages."

The indictment reflects the 'little guy,' who was also a victim. Federal prosecutors say guys who ran mobile lunch carts were forced to pay extortion money, as well.

If convicted, the alleged members could face serious jail time.