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Mob Takedown By Feds

CBS News Investigative producer Pat Milton wrote this story for

Nine suspected mobsters, including a reputed acting boss, were arrested Wednesday on charges ranging from murder, extortion, and racketeering as part of a takedown of the Colombo organized crime family, federal officials said.

In addition to those arrested by FBI in early morning raids, including one in Los Angeles, three suspects were charged who are already behind bars for other crimes.

The 17-count federal indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn charged the 12 defendants with a variety of charges capping a three-year investigation into the Colombo crime family. Three of the suspects are accused of four homicides dating back to the early 1990s.

The latest indictment comes on the heels of a CBS Evening News two-part series which examined the explosive growth of non-traditional organized crime families including the Asian and Russian mob.

Colombo family acting boss Thomas Gioeli, 55, is charged with the murders of two men in 1992 as part of a bloody Colombo family war which pitted two factions of the Colombo family against each other in a violent struggle for control of the family, authorities said. Colombo captain, Dino Calabro, 41 was also charged with the double murder of the two men, John Minerva and Michael Imbergamo.

In addition, Calabro was charged with the murder of an armored truck guard in 1992. Carlos Pagan, the armored guard was shot during a botched robbery attempt by Calabro and others as he and a co-worker were delivering money to a check-cashing store in Brooklyn.

The indictment documents the Colombo family's "brazen use of violence, including murder to earn money seek revenge and obstruct justice,'' authorities said.

"Our most powerful strategy in countering organized crime families is to effect a vertical takedown of the organization,'' said Mark Mershon, head of the New York FBI office.

"The very serious charges hold accountable the leadership soldiers, and associates who constitute a key component of the Colombo family,'' Mershon said.

In addition to acting boss Gioeli, the indictment charges John "Sonny" Franzese, the Colombo family underboss, who is currently in prison, Joseph "Joey Caves" Competiello, 36, a Colombo soldier and nine other Colombo family members and associates. If convicted, Gioeli, Calabro and Competiello face life imprisonment. The other defendants, if convicted face from five years to 40 years in prison.

It is the second mob bust in a week in New York.

Last Thursday a reputed Gambino family captain surrendered to the FBI on charges he ordered a decades-old gangland hit that took the life of an innocent by-stander.

Nicholas "Little Nick,'' Corozzo, had fled his Long Island home last February during a big FBI roundup of 62 suspected mafia members and associates. He was held without bail on murder, extortion and racketeering charges.

"The message could not be any clearer, we will not rest until the violent scourge of organized crime is eliminated,'' said Benton Campbell, U.S. Attorney for New York's Eastern District.