Organized crime is alive and well in New Jersey, despite ongoing efforts by law enforcement, in part because there are so many criminal enterprises from all over the world operating in the Garden State.
According to the FBI’s Newark Division, crimes in New Jersey are being committed by organized crime groups that span the globe including: La Cosa Nostra, also known as the Sicilian Mafia, Asian groups, African criminal enterprise groups and the Russian and Eurasian mobs. New Jersey is also seeing crime activity from Balkan organized crime groups, which includes people who emigrated from Albania, Macedonia and Yugoslavia.
All of these mobs are driven to make money, but they’ll do it in different ways, according to Anthony Zampogna, FBI supervisory special agent in New Jersey and program coordinator for organized crime.In addition, the FBI is also monitoring more organized crime groups coming from the Middle East.
“You see La Cosa Nostra with the traditional gambling, loan sharking, extortion (and) truck hijackings. Those are some of the hallmarks of that group, but a lot of the health care fraud we see or insurance fraud (is) through Russian organized crime, and a lot of the solicitations for fraudulent investments that we see (is) emigrating from groups out of Africa,” Zampogna said.
He pointed out many ethnic mobs in New Jersey become involved in the drug trade, and frequently violence is threatened or used.
“In many cases mobs are not really any different than gangs. They use the same tactics and commit the same kinds of crimes, and we also see overlap where a lot of times they’ll work together,” Zampogna said. ”You’ll see a Russian group or an Italian group working with what is traditionally looked at as a street gang, the Bloods or the Crips.”
Many times these alliances are built in prison, according to Zampogna, where leaders of mobs and gangs will spend time together and continue the relationship once they get out.
He noted when ethnic mobs first came to this country they stuck together because they only trusted people they knew, but now they’re all branching out.
Zampogna said if you count the smaller organized criminal entities that are operating in the state, there are dozens of ethnic mobs in New Jersey.