Mafia gambling ring suspects appear in court

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

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."