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Sex trafficking charges in Gambino case

NEW YORK – from www.msnbc.com – The Justice Department on Tuesday charged 14 reputed members and associates of the Gambino crime family on counts ranging from sex trafficking to murder.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told reporters that it appears to be the first time that a crime family was accused of setting up its own interstate sex trafficking ring.

Twelve of the 14 were arrested early Tuesday, one was arrested last week and another is on the run, the Justice Department said. One of those charged, Suzanne Porcelli [pictured], is a woman.

Another suspect, Daniel Marino, is a “boss of the Gambino Family,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement. “In that capacity, Marino has over 200 fully-inducted or ‘made’ mafia members under his command.”

Prosecutors alleged that those who were trafficked for sex included a 15-year-old girl. Authorities said the women were under the age of 20.

The defendants “took approximately 50 percent of the money paid to the young women,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said. “The defendants also made the women available for sex to gamblers at weekly, high-stakes poker games.”

The charges included racketeering, murder, sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, jury tampering, extortion, assault, narcotics trafficking, wire fraud, loansharking and illegal gambling.

Marino was charged in the 1989 killing of Thomas Spinelli, a Gambino member, and the 1997 killing of his nephew Frank Hyell, who had been cooperating with law enforcement.

The extortion victims were beaten, sometimes with baseball bats, the U.S. Attorney’s office added. “The defendants targeted businesses in the home heating oil industry and the financial services industry, as well as various individuals in and around New York City.”

“As today’s case demonstrates, the mafia is not dead,” Bharara said in the statement. “It is alive and kicking. Modern mobsters may be less colorful, less flamboyant, and less glamorous than some of their predecessors, but they are still terrorizing businesses, using baseball bats, and putting people in the hospital.”

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