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19 Mafia Suspects Arrested, Including Some From The Gambino Family

Police in the U.S. and Italy recently arrested a number of mafiosi. NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro asks author John Dickie about a trans-Atlantic criminal connection.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The Mafia is back in the headlines in a series of raids involving the FBI and Italian police. Nineteen Mafia suspects were arrested in New York and Italy this past week; among them, some from the notorious Gambino crime family. John Dickie studies the Italian Mafia. He’s the author of “Blood Brotherhoods,” and he joins us now to talk about why these raids are significant.

Welcome.

JOHN DICKIE: Thank you. Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let’s start with these raids. What do you make of them?

DICKIE: Really, you have to begin the story back in the late 1970s when a number of Mafiosi with strong family ties and organizational ties across the Atlantic between Sicily and the eastern coast of the United States started trafficking in heroin in huge quantities. Now, in the early 1980s in Sicily, a group of Mafiosi who had been left out of that lucrative trade essentially mounted a kind of military coup de tar within the Sicilian Mafia in Sicily and either murdered or expelled from Sicily the members of the Gambino-Inzerillo family. And since then, they have been trying to make a return to re-establish that trans-Atlantic bridge.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The families on the losing end of that turf war fled to the United States. Why the United States? And it seems strange that members of a crime family could find footing in the United States if they were known sort of Mafiosi.

DICKIE: We’ve really only begun to understand in recent years just how profoundly important – to the history of the Mafia since at least the very early 20th century – is this whole trans-Atlantic connection. This is not something that just happened once when millions of Sicilians emigrated to the United States before the First World War. This is an ongoing process, the toing and froing of criminal personnel, criminal commodities, criminal ideas. The Inzerillos and Gambino families are intermarried over several generations as part of this process.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And so what happened recently is that members of this family who had fled to United States were then trying to go back and re-establish themselves in Sicily again. And it was leading to sort of a turf battle.

DICKIE: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, the return of the Inzerillos represents a huge internal political problem for Cosa Nostra in Sicily because the people who governed the Sicilian Mafia for a generation from the early 1980s were precisely the people who had murdered many of the Inzerillos, who had effectively ethnically cleansed the others out of Sicily and sent them back to the United States.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So the Mafia survives off what it’s always survived off of, which is essentially protection rackets, right? But where are they at this particular moment? I think many of us think of the Mafia as being a sort of pale shadow of what it once was, both in the U.S. and Italy.

DICKIE: I think that’s true, but that is a great symptom of both the huge step change that there’s been since particularly the early 1990s in the law enforcement response to organized crime in Italy. And another great indicator of that is this trans-Atlantic cooperation between the authorities. They’ve now worked together for a generation because they understand the importance of this old bridge. It’s no coincidence that FBI headquarters has in it a bust of Giovanni Falcone, the great hero and martyr of the struggle against the Mafia in Italy. He was blown up, along, with his wife and his armed escort by a Mafia bomb in 1992 because Falcone was who pioneered this trans-Atlantic cooperation in the fight against the Mafia. He got it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you consider these raids are a major blow to the attempts to sort of reanimate these links?

DICKIE: I think this is an ongoing process. It clearly shows that the authorities are watching it very, very carefully. They understand it and know it. And that – from that point of view, it’s reassuring. But it’s always difficult to tell, when an operation is as fresh as this one is, just how damaging it will prove to be.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That’s John Dickie, professor of Italian studies at University College London. Thank you so much.

DICKIE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE NIKLAS AMAN’S “ESCALATORS AND GLASS”)

Sourced From – https://www.npr.org/2019/07/21/743847214/19-mafia-suspects-arrested-including-some-from-the-gambino-family

Trump administration plans to require drug companies to include prices in ads

BY JESSIE HELLMANN AND NATHANIEL WEIXEL – 

Drug companies would be required to list prices in advertisements under a Trump administration proposal released Monday.

Under the new proposal, which was announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, drug manufacturers would need to state the list price of a 30-day supply of any drug that is covered through Medicare and Medicaid and costs at least $35 a month.

The plan is the boldest step the administration has taken to date as part of its efforts to bring down drug prices, and puts the administration squarely at odds with the powerful prescription drug lobby.

“Patients deserve to know what a given drug will cost when they’re being told about the benefits and risks it may have,” Azar said during a speech Monday in Washington, D.C.

“And they deserve to know when a drug company has pushed its prices to abusive levels, and they deserve to know this every time they see a drug advertised to them on TV.”

The proposal will be officially published Wednesday, and will be open for public comment for 60 days.

According to HHS, the 10 most commonly advertised drugs have list prices ranging from $535 to $11,000 per month for a usual course of therapy. Under the proposal, companies would be required to post that information in clear, legible text onscreen at the end of the ad.

HHS officials said the agency will publish a list of companies that don’t comply with the policy. Those companies would also be subject to potential litigation, officials said during a press call.

The pharmaceutical industry opposes the proposal, arguing it would confuse consumers because a drug’s list price is often lower than what the patient will actually pay.

PhRMA, the deep-pocketed trade group representing pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., tried getting ahead of Azar’s announcement, telling reporters Monday morning that its members would begin directing patients to more information about drug costs in television ads.

Every ad mentioning a prescription drug by name will include a voiceover or text telling patients to go to a company-sponsored website where they can find information about the list price, as well as a range of potential out-of-pocket costs and potential patient assistance. 

“We want patients to have more cost information and support using direct-to-consumer advertising,” said PhRMA President Steven Ubl, but “just including list prices is not sufficient and would be misleading.”

Azar acknowledged PhRMA’s plan in his speech Monday afternoon, but said it doesn’t go far enough. 

Full Read – https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/411505-trump-administration-to-require-drug-companies-include-prices-in-ads

Farrah Abraham Threatened with Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit If She Bails on Celebrity Boxing Match

November 03, 2018 01:08 AM

Farrah Abraham may face legal action if she backs out of a celebrity boxing match.

The former Teen Mom OG star is scheduled to go head-to-head against Flavor of Love alum Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander during the match set for Nov. 10 in Atlantic City.

While she confirmed to PEOPLE on Friday that she is still planning to participate in the event, she asserted that the promoters who organized it “are in breach” of contract.

“They have not gotten flights or delivered on contractual obligations as well as safety,” said Abraham, 27.

According to The Blast, promoters Damon Feldman, Samantha Goldberg and their attorney, Tony List, are threatening to sue for millions if she bails on the event. They also said that they met all of her demands and that as of now, the fight is still on.

The report states that first class plane tickets have allegedly been purchased for Abraham and her 9-year-old daughter Sophia, and that she has been paid half the money she’s owed up front.

Full Read – https://people.com/tv/farrah-abraham-threatened-to-be-sued-celebrity-boxing-match/

Pot farm’s neighbors lose federal suit filed under anti-Mafia law

DENVER — A federal jury has ruled against a Colorado couple who claimed that a marijuana-growing operation hurt the value of their property in a case that was closely watched by the U.S. cannabis industry.

Jurors reached their verdict in Denver after deliberating for about a half day, The Colorado Sunreported Wednesday.

It was the first time a jury considered a lawsuit using federal anti-racketeering law to target a marijuana company.

“A loss in this case would have meant the loss of his business,” Matthew Buck, the lawyer for operation’s owner, Parker Walton, told The Sun.

The marijuana industry has followed the case since 2015, when attorneys with a Washington, D.C., firm first filed their complaint on behalf of Hope and Michael Reilly over Walton’s operation in the rural southern Colorado town of Rye.

Vulnerability to similar lawsuits is among the many risks facing marijuana operations licensed by states but still violating federal law. Lawsuits using the same strategy have been filed in California, Massachusetts and Oregon.

One of the Reillys’ lawyers, Brian Barnes, said the couple bought their land for its views of Pikes Peak, built a house there and hike and ride horses on the property.

But they claimed “pungent, foul odors” from a neighboring indoor marijuana-growing operation have hurt the property’s value and the couple’s ability to use and enjoy it.

Congress created the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to target the Mafia in the 1970s, allowing prosecutors to argue leaders of a criminal enterprise should pay a price along with lower-level defendants.

Full Read – http://www.nwaonline.com/news/2018/nov/02/pot-farm-s-neighbors-lose-federal-suit-/

Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’ tortured, killed 6 Americans and DEA agent within 9-week span, report says

Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman may face murder charges after several former Mexican police officers accused him of killing six Americans and a DEA agent within a nine-week span in late 1984.

Three former Mexican police officers told the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles they witnessed Guzman carry out the killing spree between late 1984 and early 1985. Jorge Godoy, one of the former cops who is now under witness protection, told WFAA that Guzman took pleasure in killing people.

Four Americans who were Jehovah’s Witnesses — Benjamin Mascarenas, 29; his wife Pat Mascarenas, 27; Dennis Carlson, 32; and his wife Rose Carlson, 36 — were murdered during a missionary trip in Guadalajara, Mexico. Godoy said he was the bodyguard of drug kingpin Ernesto Fonseca at the time and the missionaries made the wrong decision of knocking on a drug lord’s door on Dec. 2, 1984.

He told WFAA he saw them rape the women and torture the Americans. He added that Guzman shot each person and watched their bodies fall into an open grave. Former DEA agent Hector Berrellez also said Guzman was involved in their deaths.

Full Read – http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/05/01/mexican-drug-lord-el-chapo-tortured-killed-6-americans-and-dea-agent-within-9-week-span-report-says.html