An FBI sweep through three states Monday netted New England's top organized crime boss, culminating a five-year probe in which investigators taped the Mafia's solemn blood initiation rite, authorities said.
The 113-count indictments naming 21 alleged mobsters were especially significant for their extensive description of the induction ceremony, said U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.``It should lay to rest once and for all any doubts that the Cosa Nostra is a figment of law enforcement's imagination,' Thornburgh told reporters.
``It establishes beyond doubt the existence of a secret, clandestine operation that takes itself very seriously.'
FBI agents fanned out Monday over Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut to arrest the alleged criminals on a range of charges including murder, racketeering, kidnapping, drug trafficking, gambling, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation. Fifteen of the 21 were in custody Monday afternoon.
``These three indictments represent an unprecedented assault on New England organized crime activity,' said Thornburgh, who was joined in Boston by the FBI Director William Sessions and U.S. attorneys for the three New England states.
Sessions said the dragnet and court-approved tapes of an induction ceremony in Medford in October shows the bureau's ``ability to invade the inner sanctums ... with the intention to destroy them.'
Reputed boss Raymond ``Junior' Patriarca, son of the region's late reputed mob leader, was arrested about 6:30 a.m. Monday at his home in Lincoln, R.I.
Patriarca, 45, appeared handcuffed before a U.S. magistrate in Providence and was ordered transferred to Boston, where a magistrate ordered Patriarca and co-defendant Carmen A. Tortora detained pending a hearing April 6.
Attorney John F. Cicilline had argued his client should be given three days to determine whether he was medically fit to make the 50-mile trip. Cicilline said his client suffers from cancer and cataracts.
The 20 others named in the indictments were allegedly members of the Patriarca family.