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March 12, 2006

Meanwhile... Our Ports Are Effectively Run By The Mafia

One good thing about a media firestorm is that it brings to light things people didn't know, forgot they knew, or liked to pretend they didn't know:

Justice Department lawyers warned eight months ago that a nefarious element had infiltrated important East Coast ports, but they weren't talking about terrorists or Arab shipping companies. They were talking about the mafia.

In a civil suit filed in July, prosecutors accused the International Longshoremen's Association, the 65,000-member union that supplies labor to ports from Florida to Maine, of being a "vehicle for organized crime" on the waterfront.

Packed with tales of corruption, embezzling and extortion, the complaint accused union executives of being associates of the Genovese and Gambino crime families.

The U.S. attorney's office asked a judge to seize control of the union, remove its officers and "put an end to the conspiracy among union officials, organized crime figures and others that has plagued some of the nation's most important ports for decades."

The allegations, assailed by the union as unjust and untrue, are inching toward trial amid heightened concern over port security.

...

But some port security experts say America already has a fifth column, of sorts, at work on its docks: gangsters who have made the piers friendly territory for drug smugglers and cargo thieves.

...

"It is an invitation to smuggling of all kinds, whether it is heroin, or weapons, or human trafficking," King said. "Instead of bringing in 50 kilograms of heroin, what would stop them from bringing in five kilograms of plutonium?"

ILA spokesman James McNamara said any suggestion that the union poses a security risk is "ludicrous."

"Nobody in America cares more about port security than the longshoremen," he said.

I feel so warm and safe.


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posted by Ace at 12:09 PM

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