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5 arrested in 1978 JFK Lufthansa 'Goodfellas' heist

12:24 PM, Jan 23, 2014   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) - The FBI arrested five alleged mobsters in pre-dawn raids Thursday in connection with the infamous 1978 Lufthansa heist of $5 million in cash at Kennedy International Airport, ABC News and Reuters report.

Vincent Asaro, 78, said to be a ranking member of the Bonanno organized crime family, was arrested at his home in Queens. The raids all took places in the New York area..

The Lufthansa heist - described at the time as the single-biggest heist in U.S. history -- was made famous in the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas.

The robbers, using information provided by an airport worker, stole millions of U.S. currency that was part of a monthly shipment via Lufthansa to then-West Germany where it was used in monetary exchanges serving military personnel and tourists.

It took some half-dozen masked gunman 64 minutes to steal the packets of cash, toss them into a van and escape.

Also arrested Thursday was reputed mob underboss Thomas "Tommy D" DiFiore of Commack, Long Island, the highest-ranking Bonanno family member currently living outside of prison, officials said, according to ABC News.

The arrests stem from a surprise decision by the FBI last June to search the Queens home of the late Mafia associate James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke. The search reportedly turned up human remains in the backyard, ABC reports.

Burke, who the feds believe was behind the JFK heist, died 18 years ago while serving time in prison for killing a drug dealer.

Burke was the inspiration for Robert DeNiro's "Jimmy Conway" in Goodfellas.

The feds believe that Burke was the mastermind of the Lufthansa robbery and was responsible for killing off anyone who could have tied him to the crime.

USA TODAY

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