New York pizzeria Cucino a Modo Mio, known for its Italian pizza and warm ambiance, was just a cover-up for an international cocaine syndicate with members in Costa Rica and Italy, federal authorities found. Inside the restaurant, authorities found shotguns, magnum Trooper revolvers and ammunition, among others.
The owners of the place, husband and wife Gregorio and Eleonora Gigliotti, their son Angelo Gigliotti and another relative Franco Fazio, were arrested on March 11. Each family member was charged with conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, importation of cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine, according to The United States Attorney’s Office.
Cucino a Modo Mio’ is center of cocaine trafficking syndicate
The Gigliottis used Cucino a Modo Mio, an Italian restaurant and pizzeria in Corona, Queens, as well as the Fresh Farms Export Corp, an import/export company, to smuggle cocaine inside the United States from their counterparts in Italy and Costa Rica, authorities said. Italian authorities have also made arrests in connection to the international cocaine ring.
“Using their family’s businesses in New York as a front for a narcotics trafficking operation, the defendants, as alleged, sought to establish a global cocaine ring. We also used a global team to take on this case, working closely with our partners in Italy. As today’s arrests show, we are committed to working together to disrupt and dismantle organized criminal enterprises,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez in a statement.
In October 2014, authorities foiled a shipment to the U.S. containing cassava from Costa Rica. The shipment was bound for Farm fresh Export Corp in New York. Authorities found 40 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside the boxes of cassava. Later, investigators found that Eleonora traveled to Costa Rica and paid $400,000 to her supplier. In September, Fazio traveled from Italy to New York and then to Costa Rica to pay another $170,000 in cash to their supplier. Another shipment of cassava for Fresh Farms Export Corp, containing 15 kilograms of cocaine, was foiled by the authorities in December 2014.
The announcement of The United States Attorney’s Office of the indictment for the Gigliottis coincided with the arrest of thirteen individuals in Italy in connections with the said international cocaine syndicate.
“This case is a powerful example of the impact of international cooperation in combatting criminal organizations whose activities transcend national borders,” said Acting United States Attorney Currie.
“The arrests in New York and Italy dismantle a global network of alleged drug smugglers believed responsible for importing more than 50 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. This investigation is another example of the collective efforts of our federal and international law enforcement partners to bring down those responsible for the proliferation of illegal drugs in our communities, no matter where in the world they hide,” said HSI New York Special Agent-in-Charge Parmer. “
New York pizzeria syndicate has ties with the Mafia
The Gigliottis is said to have ties with the local Mafia in Calabria known as the Ndranghet, CNN reported.
The family is also known associates of the Genovese organized crime family, according to James McGovern, chief of the Eastern District’s criminal division.
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