Mafia gambling ring suspects appear in courtPosted: Updated:
More than half of the suspects connected to a multibillion dollar gambling and smuggling ring made their first court appearances in the case Wednesday.
The 18 defendants were arrested as part of a sweep Tuesday. New Jersey Department of Criminal Justice officials say the ring was financed by two heads of New York's Lucchese crime family.
Investigators say the ring was run by Ralph Perna, Sr. of East Hanover, a New Jersey capo. Perna's three sons allegedly ran the gambling operation's day-to-day activities.
In addition to the gambling charges, the reputed Lucchese mobsters are accused of working with members of the Bloods street gang to smuggle cell phones and drugs into prison.
Tuesday's busts resulted in the arrest of 32 suspects, including a prison guard accused of delivering the smuggled goods to inmates.
AP wires contributed to this article.
Related information: Authorities bust alleged mob ring with gang ties