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FBI Arrests 127 People in Mafia Crackdown

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, right, and U.S. Attorney for New York's Southern District Preet Bharara confer at a news conference in New York, 20 Jan 2011

U.S. FBI agents have arrested 127 Mafia members and associates, in one of the largest operations against the organized crime outfit in the agency's history.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking to reporters in Brooklyn, New York, said Thursday that the arrests took place early Thursday. He said suspects were detained in the northeastern U.S. states of New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island for crimes including drug dealing, extortion and murder.

Holder said agents arrested people from seven Italian-American organized crime groups in the northeast, and one person was arrested in Italy.

The famous "Five Families" of New York were among the La Cosa Nostra organized crime groups targeted. The families are historically linked to the Sicilian Mafia.

The head of the FBI's New York office, Janice Fedarcyk, says the arrests are the result of years of investigative work, including use of cooperating witnesses who carried court-authorized wire taps and recording devices.

Holder said Thursday's arrests - a collaboration among federal and local law enforcement agencies - mark an important step forward in the fight against La Cosa Nostra, but he cautioned that the fight is far from over. He said fighting organized crime will remain a top priority for law enforcement.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.