Four alleged members and associates of the Gambino and Bonanno crime families, including a man from Bellmore, were arrested on Wednesday as part of a major federal investigation into cocaine dealing and racketeering.
Salvatore Russo, 45, of Bellmore, was charged in a cocaine trafficking scheme involving at least 10 kilograms. According to Bridget Rohde, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, Russo is a known associate of the Bonanno crime family — part of Las Cosa Nostra.
According to court documents, Russo worked with Damiano Zummo, a 44-year-old captain in the Bonanno family, from Roslyn Heights, in a cocaine trafficking scheme in which a kilogram was sold in a Manhattan gelato store for $38,000.
Russo, “a trusted associate” of the Bonanno family, according to the indictment, was introduced by Zummo during the cocaine deal as his cousin, who would be in charge of future cocaine sales. “I'll just bring the kid Sal, that's it,” Zummo said during a recorded conversation, according to the indictment. “He's the one that brings it.”
According to authorities, Zummo was also recorded conducting a 2015 ceremony in Canada, in which a new member of the Bonanno family was inducted.
“The reason why we're here is, from this day forward, you're gonna be an official member of the Bonanno family,” Zummo said on the recording, according to the indictment.
The recording of the secret ceremony is “an extraordinary achievement” for law enforcement, said Rohde, and dealt a significant blow to the American mafia.
“Today’s arrests send a powerful message that this office and our law enforcement partners here and abroad are committed to dismantling organized crime groups wherever they are located — whether local or international in scope,” Rohde added.
“Criminal enterprises, both national and international, contribute to the breakdown of a lawful society,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney. “And yet, the allure of this gangland culture is often embraced and glamorized in movies and on television, where the threats posed to our economic and national security are seldom displayed. Dismantling and disrupting major international and national organized criminal enterprises is a longstanding area of FBI expertise, which is significantly enhanced through collaboration with our law enforcement partners and our Canadian partners. While we have more work to do, this operation is a giant step in the right direction.”
Associates of the Gambino crime family were also arrested as part of the operation.
If convicted, Zummo and Russo face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years, and a maximum of life in prison.