The economic downturn has many anticipating a spike in American crime statistics, but there’s one corner of the underworld where activity will probably stay relatively muted. “The mob has been in a recession of their own since the 1980s," said Thomas Reppetto, author of Bringing Down the Mob: The War Against the American Mafia. That decade saw the beginning of the crackdown that would bring down some of the biggest families.
These days, there are relatively fewer law enforcement agents working on mob crimes, but not that many are necessary to keep the American mafia at bay. Reppetto believes that "there is still a role for local crime groups, but organized crime in the 21st century will become increasingly international."
In fact, the latter half of this year has witnessed the fall of three high-profile New York mobsters. John "Junior" Gotti, the alleged boss of Gambino crime family, was arrested last August, accused of conspiracy to commit three murders and large-scale cocaine trafficking. Earlier this month, Vincent Gotti, brother of the late John Gotti, Sr. was convicted to eight years in prison for a botched hit on a bagel store owner. And finally, this week, John E. Alite, another top Gambino associate, pleaded guilty to participating in two murders, among other crimes.
However mafia leaders still hold a few cards to play with authorities. They could end up cutting some deals with government in exchange for help in combating terrorism. “They could trade a terrorist group in exchange for immunity for their associates."
Constantino Diaz-Duran is a writer living in Manhattan. He has written for the New York Post, the Washington Blade, El Diario NY and the Orange County Register.