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"Vinny Slick" and "Fifi" among 16 accused mafia associates arrested in U.S.-Italy takedown

Sixteen alleged members of the Gambino crime family have been arrested in the U.S. and Italy in a racketeering case in which the defendants are accused of a series of crimes — including assault, arson and extortion — as a means to "dominate the New York carting and demolition industries," the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

An indictment was unsealed in New York on Wednesday charging 10 people with racketeering conspiracy, extortion, witness retaliation and "union-related crimes," federal prosecutors announced. Six alleged organized crime members and associates were also busted in Italy on Wednesday as part of the operation targeting alleged Gambino members and associates. One individual in Italy remains at large.

Federal prosecutors accused one alleged Gambino mafia family associate, Francesco Vicari, also known as Uncle Ciccio, of holding a man at knifepoint and directing him to threaten to cut his son-in-law in half as a threat to get him to make extortion payments, the Justice Department said.

Vicari "acted like the 'Last of the Samurai,'" Vito Rappa, another alleged mafia associate, allegedly said in a wiretapped call. Vicari and Rapp are among the 10 people charged in a 16-count indictment in New York.

"As alleged, for years, the defendants committed violent extortions, assaults, arson, witness retaliation and other crimes in an attempt to dominate the New York carting and demolition industries," United States Attorney Breon Peace said.  "Today's arrests reflect the commitment of this Office and our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad, to keep our communities safe by the complete dismantling of organized crime." 

Other defendants in the case were identified as alleged Gambino captain Joseph Lanni and alleged Gambino soldiers Diego "Danny" Tantillo; Angelo Gradilone, also known as Fifi; and James LaForte. Prosecutors also charged alleged Gambino associates Salvatore DiLorenzo, Robert Brooke, Kyle Johnson and Vincent Minsquero, also known as Vinny Slick.

Tantillo and John allegedly coordinated a violent hammer assault on the dispatcher of a demolition company, which left the dispatcher seriously injured. Pictures of the victim were circulated to various people in the carting and demolition industries. 

As part of their alleged schemes, prosecutors said the defendants also stole and embezzled from unions and employee benefit plans. The defendants also allegedly rigged bids in the demolition and carting industries. 

The Gambinos are one of five crime families that make up La Cosa Nostra in New York City. The other groups are the Bonanno, the Colombo, the Genovese and the Lucchese families.

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