Following an investigation conducted by the Central Operations Service (SCO) and the CID of Matera against the Mafia in Milan, Matera and New York eight people were arrested this morning, five in Italy and three in the US, and charged with criminal conspiracy to commit international extortion aggravated by mafia membership.
Among those arrested was also the Italian-American Francesco Palmieri, who is considered a leading member, or underboss, of one of New York's most powerful mob families, the Gambinos.
A total of 30 Italian and US cops encircled a the block in a Brooklyn suburb and carried out the raid.
A key figure in the investigation was John Grillo, called "John", who was arrested by the SCO at Milan Malpensa airport, just before leaving Italy with a one-way ticket to New York. Grillo was reportedly trying to extort 1 million euros from an Italian businessman, the owner of a leading company in automation and climate control systems based in Basilicata, southern Italy.
The investigation began over a year ago as a follow up to operation "New Bridge", closed last February when SCO agents arrested 26 people, all belonging to a Mafia group who operated a drug trafficking route between Calabria and the United States.