Authorities have charged 31 people in a yearlong investigation into organized crime and drug trafficking, including reputed New England mob capo Mark Rossetti.
Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said Thursday the arrests — which began in May — have put a "major dent" in organized crime in Massachusetts.
Rossetti has been jailed on heroin trafficking charges since May. He pleaded not guilty, and his attorney challenged prosecutors' claim he is a mob boss. Wednesday's new indictment accuses Rossetti of organizing a criminal network involved in extortion, drug trafficking, robberies, assaults and other crimes.
Darin Bufalino, of Winthrop, was one of three men arrested Wednesday.
A prosecutor said in court Thursday that Bufalino was a "soldier" working for Rossetti. Bufalino's attorney said Bufalino works for a scrap metal company and is not a mobster.
Last year, authorities began investigating Joseph Giallanella, an alleged bookmaker and loan shark from North Andover, Attorney General Martha Coakley said. The investigation spread into organized crime activity across eastern Massachusetts.
"These individuals not only perpetrated threats of violence and vicious attacks in order to collect gaming debts, but also engaged in extensive drug trafficking," Blodgett said.
Blodgett says the case started with an investigation of illegal gaming and loan sharking and grew from there. He says investigators stepped in just in time to stop some serious crimes.
"What they've done is prevent murders from happening," he said. "That was going to be something that, unless this had happened, the way it did, we were going to see murders in this state."
This program aired on October 21, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.