The Gambino crime family. The Chicago outfit. The Latin Kings. You’ve probably heard of these infamous crime families, a.k.a., the mob. The mafia. “Don” Corleone.Capiche?
But have you heard of Hugo Camacho? Or Javier Piaguaje? They’re not exactly household names. Nor gangster names for that matter. And that’s because one is acampesino farmer that makes about $200 a month growing cacao. The other is a leader of the Secoya indigenous people, and both are from the rainforests of Ecuador’s Amazon. Their crime? Suing the second largest oil company for the worst oil-related environmental disaster on the planet. And winning.
But starting today in a lower Manhattan courthouse, they are being accused using the same criminal statute under which the big crime bosses of our time have been prosecuted: RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). It’s the latest in Chevron’s scorched earth campaign to avoid paying a record environmental verdict against the company for massive contamination stemming from its operations in Ecuador’s Amazon between 1964 and 1990.