Wednesday, December 19, 2007

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Mob bust reaches into Morris

Four Morris County men -- including the reputed New Jersey head of the Lucchese organized crime family -- were charged Tuesday in the operation of an illegal gambling ring that authorities say transacted $2.2 billion in bets in 15 months.

The county residents were among 32 people who were rounded up as part of the year-long "Operation HEAT" investigation conducted by the state Division of Criminal Justice. The gambling probe -- with 61-year-old East Hanover resident Ralph V. Perna alleged to be at its center -- also uncovered what state Attorney General Anne Milgram called "an alarming alliance between the Lucchese crime family and the Bloods street gang to smuggle heroin, cocaine, marijuana and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison" with the aid of a prison guard.
[State Attorney General Anne] Milgram said she believes the charges have seriously undermined the Lucchese crime family's ability to operate.

"With today's arrests and charges, we have disrupted the highest echelon of the Lucchese organized crime family in both New York and New Jersey," she said.

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