Carmine Franco, 'Papa Smurf' Of Garbage Industry, Arrested In Mob Bust

Carmine Franco (

It turns out "The Sopranos" may have not ended after all.

On Wednesday, Carmine "Papa Smurf" Franco, pictured above, was arrested on racketeering, wire fraud and stolen property charges that sound, as the Newark Star-Ledger observed, like they came right out of the popular HBO show that ended in 2007. Franco, 77, is a New Jersey-based solid-waste manager who reputedly is to tied to organized crime, like TV series' protagonist Tony Soprano. The U.S. Attorney's Office refers to Franco as an associate of the Genovese crime family.

In total, 32 people -- including a retired state trooper -- were arrested and charged in Manhattan federal court as part of the four-year investigation into organized crime's influence on the trash hauling industry in the New Jersey and New York area.

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"Organized crime still wraps its tentacles around industries it has fed off for decades," Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

According to the indictments, which were obtained by the New York Daily News, the suspects conducted a series of illegal activities throughout the greater New York City area. The alleged acts include:
  • Purchase of nearly 100,000 contraband cigarettes for resale.
  • Stealing a hot-dog cart in Orangeburg, N.Y.
  • Forcing clients into payoffs of $500-a-week with threats of physical violence.

%VIRTUAL-hiringNow-topCity%In 1998, Franco agreed as part of a plea bargain to be barred from the trash removal business; he'd been charged with defrauding the state of New Jersey and Bergen County out of millions of dollars by shipping garbage to out-of-state landfills.

During the run-up to that settlement, the FBI was recording conversations involving Franco and his then associates. It soon became clear how prized he was by the Genovese family, authorities said.

In the conversations, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Salvatore Profaci, another mafia figure, discussed his role in trying to mediate between Franco and a New Jersey lawyer, Salvatore Arena, over a dispute regarding a Philadelphia-based trash company.

It was paramount for the organization that the issue be settled privately, and not in the courts.

"By blowing Carmine [Franco] out of the water, we are destroying their number-one earner in the whole organization,'' Profaci was recorded as saying in one conversation.

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