FBI catches Lufthansa heist mobsters

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

Goodfellas image
Goodfellas, a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese, was inspired by the mobsters involved in the Lufthansa heist.

Back in 1978, several mobsters robbed around $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels from the cargo of a Lufthansa flight in New York’s JFK Airport. That’s about $20 million worth of moola in today’s economy. The Lufthansa heist was even featured in the based-on-a-true-story gangster movie Goodfellas!

Even though that crime was over 35 years ago, the FBI finally caught up to the five mobsters allegedly involved in the legendary robbery, nabbing them in pre-dawn raids on Thursday. The men, named Vincent Asaro, Jack Bonventre, John “Bazoo” Ragano, Thomas “Tommy D” Di Fiore, and Jerome Asaro, were apparently members of the Bonanno crime family.

Their Lufthansa heist is one of the largest cash thefts in American history, and FBI agents only caught them after investigating the Queens home of James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke last summer. Burke, who was the brains behind the operation, died in prison in 1996, but his home apparently held some human remains belonging to police informant Paul Katz. DNA testing confirmed the identity, and now Vincent and Jerome Asaro are being blamed for the man’s 1969 “disappearance.”

So, even if crime pays for 35 years, it can still eventually catch up to you in the retirement home!

Featured image courtesy of FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation Facebook. Image of Goodfellas poster courtesy of Warner Bros.