Edgardo Greco was detaimed in Saint-Étienne is the second high-profile mafia arrest by Italian authorities in a matter of weeks.
Matteo Messina Denaro had been on the run for 30 years and was ambushed by police on a visit to a clinic in Sicily.
Denaro was the “boss of bosses” for Sicily’s notorious Cosa Nostra.
Greco was part of the ‘Ndrangheta organised crime mob who originate from the Calabria region in Italy’s renowend for kidnapping and drug running.
Greco, 63, was wanted for the murder of two brothers during a “mafia war” between two gangs in the early 1990s.
Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo were beaten to death at a fishmonger’s in the small town of Cosenza in January 1991. Their bodies were never found and are believed to have been dissolved in acid.
Greco was part of a rival gang and he was also accused of the attempted murder of another man later that year in the same town.
Greco went on the run in 2006 whwn a warrant for his arrest was issued.
He eventually settled in Saint-Étienne, south-west of Lyon, eventually taking up the job of pizza chef in an Italian restaurant.
Greco took on a new identity, calling himself Paolo Dimitrio.
He was sufficiently confident of his new alias that he appeared in a local newspaper feature, boasting of his restaurant’s “regional and home-made recipes” such as ravioli, risotto and tagliatelle.
. The feature called him an Italian by birth but at heart a local to Saint-Étienne.
But anti-mafia prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri, pent decades tackling the rise of the ‘Ndrangheta and never gave up on tracking down Greco,
In a statement, Italy’s Carabinieri military police said that since 2019, investigators had traced Greco’s support network, which ultimately led them across the Alps to Saint-Étienne.
Interpol said its anti-’Ndrangheta operation also became involved, with French authorities carrying out surveillance of Greco’s location. Italian police then confirmed his identity and moved in to arrest him.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi praised the police for bringing to justice one of Italy’s worst criminals, while the head of the Calabria region, Roberto Occhiuto, said the arrest underlined Italy’s commitment to the fight against all forms of organised crime.