Mafia hitman found working as pizza chef in France after 16 years on the run

mafia hitman who had been on the run for 16 years was arrested Thursday in France, where he had been working as a pizza chef.

Edgardo Greco, 63, who authorities say has links to Italy’s notorious ‘ndrangheta crime group and was convicted of killing two people in the early 1990s, was arrested by French police in the city of Saint-Étienne in southeastern France.

Described as a dangerous fugitive, Greco has been sentenced to life in prison for the murders of brothers Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo in 1991. Italian police said in a statement that the pair were beaten to death with a metal bar in a fish shop in Calabria. “Their bodies were made to disappear and never found again,” police said.

Greco is also accused of attempted murder in a separate case.

Italian news agency ANSA said Greco had been working as a pizza chef in an Italian restaurant in France under an assumed identity. Italian police released a picture of Greco in a chef’s white coat stood in what appears to be a restaurant kitchen.

Interpol, the international policing agency which coordinated the case with French and Italian law enforcement, said Greco’s crimes were linked to the “mafia wars” of the early 1990s between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno organized crime gangs in the Cosenza region of southern Italy.

He was deemed responsible for the two deaths during the so-called Maxi Trial, which prosecuted and convicted hundreds of mafia operatives from 1986 to 1992. Police said he “evaded the execution” of a precautionary prison order related to that trial in 2006.

Catanzaro Public Prosecutor’s Office in southern Italy issued a European Arrest Warrant for Greco after he escaped police custody in October 2006.

An Interpol statement said French police, with help from Italian colleagues, arrested Edgardo Greco in Saint-Etienne, central France.   (Interpol / AP)
An Interpol statement said French police, with help from Italian colleagues, arrested Edgardo Greco in Saint-Etienne, central France. (Interpol / AP)

Thursday’s arrest comes two weeks after Italian police arrested mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, who also had links to ‘ndrangheta and spent decades on the run as Italy’s most-wanted man.

“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,” Matteo Piantedosi, Italy’s interior minister, said in a statement.

“The capture of Edgardo Greco brings to justice one of the worst Italian criminals and demonstrates, for the umpteenth time, the capabilities and commitment of our police forces, which on this occasion have operated in collaboration with the French authorities,” he said.

The operation was part of Interpol’s I-CAN project, an Italian-funded initiative launched in 2020 to target the ‘ndrangheta crime group. Interpol says it has helped arrested dozens of fugitives across the world.

The ‘ndrangheta has long been a major concern of Italian authorities. It is considered the most dangerous and powerful Italian crime group, with global links and strong ties to the trade in South American cocaine bound for Europe.

Some 350 alleged 'ndrangheta members appeared in court in Calabria in southern Italy in another mass trial in 2021.

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