Police departments have been busy recently from coast to coast in the U.S. investigating illegal gambling activities. Several operations involved SWAT teams, others busted mob-run crime activities, but the end result was the same, there are now less illegally operating gambling houses. That is, until the vacuum is filled by someone else.
Police, backed by SWAT team members, worked to disrupt a plot on Wednesday night, at a massive illegal gambling house in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, detaining more than a dozen men. The entire incident was caught on film with news helicopters overhead which revealed how the police had to use a battering ram to gain access to the site. Despite the initial detentions, police arrested only one person, but gave no information on the type of activity that had occurred.
Reportedly, the police response was the result of ongoing investigation into the area’s illegal activity. It might have been linked to past summer busting when LA police arrested 35 people tied to illegal gambling, prostitution, and drug trafficking. If so an enormous network of illegal gambling that could blight the city has been revealed.
Stepping across the country to New York State yesterday, police were busy carrying out a search targeting federal authorities as well. Approximately 20 people have been charged on Staten Island for alleged involvement in crimes ranging from illegal gambling to extortion. 17 of them were local in the area and some are said to be connected to the Colombo crime family and others belong to other mafia gangs.
Joseph Amato and Daniel Capaldo were charged, both linked to the Colombo estate, according to federal prosecutors. The raid came after an investigation that began three years ago after Amato’s mysterious move— he had put a GPS device on a local bus to keep track of his girlfriend at the time. Discovering the machine triggered an investigation which led authorities to the police action of yesterday.
The crimes also include racketeering that has been documented. One of those arrested, Benjamin Bifalco, 25, was recorded speaking to the son of Amato, Joseph Jr., about setting up an unspecified NCAA basketball game. He reportedly said he was willing to pay thousands of dollars to players to throw the game. Although prosecutors have not specified what game it was, Bifalco must not have very good persuasive forces. The group he’d pay off to take a dive won the match.