Sunday, May 10, 2015

The New Pizza Connection

The quiet, hardworking Queen's pizza maker Gregorio Gigliotti who owned Cucino A Modo Mio (I Cook My Way) was really a member of the blood thirsty Ndrangheta.
The Ndrangheta hail from Calabria and control a huge amount of the drugs in Europe.  They only allow those with blood or marriage ties into their organization.  This cuts down on turncoats.  They have intermarried with many other Mafia families so they have a lot of power.

Gregorio ran the US part of a large Ndrangheta smuggling ring that imported cocaine from Costa Rica in shipments of cassava and yucca. They would pack the drugs in the roots in Costa Rica and they would be sent to Philadelphia or Delaware.
They would repackage them and hide them in the walls of cardboard boxes and they would be shipped to the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.  

Law Enforcement intercepted  shipments totaling 125 lbs of cocaine over the last year headed to both Philly and Delaware.  The FBI working with Italian authorities started watching the Queen's Pizzeria.  They soon had wires on all their phones and inside the restaurant.  They had them in their cars and homes and they started paying off.

The FBI soon came up with a name, Operation Columbus, and it went on for 10 months.  They picked up a lot of Gregorio and his violent temper. He wanted to dissolve  two Mafia debtors in acid or use baseball bats on them.  He was mad at Franco and Pino Fazio for them not paying on a consignment of drugs. They were two brothers who worked with as couriers between Costa Rica, United States and Italy.   The FBI watched as Franco, known as the Ambassador, dropped off 170k in payment to South American drug traffickers.

Even as the FBI was closing on them Gregorio sent his wife to Costa Rica with 400k to give to the suppliers. They intercepted some of the cocaine shipments to another New York business that Gregorio owned.  Fresh Farms Export Corp was started to handle the shipments from Costa Rica and to Europe.  

The FBI took down a shipment of 40 kilos of cocaine secreted inside boxes of cassava bound for Fresh Farms in October of 2014.

That didn't slow down Gregorio because the Ambassador, Franco Fazio, made two more money trips to Costa Rica before they seized another shipment of 15 kilos of cocaine.  It was again headed to Fresh Farms but this time it was hidden in produce.

This shows how these Mafia connected groups have sprung up again.  They are all similar to the Pizza Connection back in the 1980s.  Keep in mind that most of the guys from the Pizza Connection are now free men. The FBI is busy working terrorism now, so it gives them a lot of time to grow.  Since they do not take part in a lot of the family business in the US like bookmaking and shylocking, they do not get the same attention the Cosa Nostra gets.  

The central hub for this group was the Pizzeria in Queens.  The family worked there and the place served a great pie.  The FBI raided it last month and they got over 100k in cash, 7 guns and a pair of brass knuckles. They found more cash in their homes and they are now moving to seize up to 12 million in assets.

This is where the Cosa Nostra is headed.

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