Mama Mia! On run since 2006, how mafia killer was apprehended as pizza maker in France
Edgardo Greco, a convicted killer with links to Italy’s most powerful organised crime group, the ’ndrangheta, was caught in Saint-Etienne. Living under an assumed name, he even opened a restaurant and was featured in a local newspaper piece that described him as Italian by birth but a local by heart
An Italian mafia killer on the run for the past 16 years has finally been apprehended – as a pizza maker in France.
Edgardo Greco, a convicted killer with links to Italy’s most powerful organised crime group, the ’ndrangheta, was caught in France’s Saint-Etienne.
Greco was apprehended by the French police with help from their Italian counterparts.
His arrest also came just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.
Denaro was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo.
Let’s take a closer look at Greco:
Greco, 63, had been on the run since fleeing temporary police custody in 2006.
As per Interpol, Greco is wanted for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo in 2006 –brothers who were beaten to death with a metal bar in a fish shop in Calabria – and accused of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro.
This was part of a ‘mafia war’ between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s.
According to Italy’s ANSA news agency, Greco had been living in Saint-Etienne since 2014.
For the past three years, he’d been working as a pizza maker.
According to documents seen by AFP, he used the name Paolo Dimitrio and also worked in other Italian restaurants in the city.
Greco also worked evenings in a pizza restaurant under his assumed name, according to Italian media.
As per BBC, Greco by now had been sentenced to life in prison in Italy and had an arrest warrant issues in Europe.
Greco in 2021 became the owner of an Italian restaurant called Caffe Rossini Ristorante, running it until November 2021, French prosecutors said.
A still-open Facebook account for the Caffe Rossini Ristorante, which now appears to have been closed down, shows local press covered its opening in 2021.
“Paolo Dimitrio opens the restaurant of his dreams,” said the headline of the article in the local Le Progres newspaper.
As per the BBC, Greco went even so far as to tout his “regional and home-made recipes” including ravioli, risotto and tagliatelle.
He was featured wearing eyeglasses and sporting a grey beard. The feature described him as Italian by birth but a local of Saint-Étienne by heart.
But in the meantime, Italy’s top anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri remained on Greco’s trail.
The BBC quoted a statement from Italy’s Carabinieri military police as saying that investigators since 2019 had tracked Greco’s support network.
That ultimately led them to Saint-Étienne.
French authorities then traced Greco’s location after which Italian police, confirming his identity, arrested him.
After his arrest in the early hours of the morning, he appeared before an investigating magistrate in Lyon who formally notified him of Italy’s arrest warrant, prosecutors said.
He was then placed in detention.
Greco’s arrest came with help for Italy and France from the “Cooperation against ‘Ndrangheta Project” (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol’s statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country’s commitment to “fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives”.
Originating in the Italian region of Calabria, the ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most extensive and powerful mafia group.
In recent years, ’ndrangheta mobsters have been arrested around Europe and even in Brazil.
It operates on every continent and has strong ties to the trade of cocaine bound for Europe from South America.
“No matter how hard fugitives try to slip into a quiet life abroad, they cannot evade justice forever. Dedicated officers around the world will always ensure that justice is served,” Interpol secretary general Jurgen Stock said.
I-CAN’s job is help raise awareness of ‘Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.
The arrest of Greco came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros ($270 million).
Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.
With inputs from agencies
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