(NEW YORK) — American and Italian authorities arrested more than a dozen people Thursday in Calabria for cocaine trafficking that spanned both sides of the Atlantic.
Federal prosecutors said the case exposed new alliances between old school mafia families — the Gambino and Genovese.
The lynchpin was a family in New York — Gregorio and Eleonora Gigliotti and their son Angelo — who court records accused of allegedly coordinating drug trafficking from their restaurant Cucino a Modo Mio in Queens.
Their relative in Italy, Franco Fazio was among 13 people arrested Thursday in Italy.
“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.,” said HSI New York Special Agent-in-Charge Raymond Parmer.
The case involves the importation of cocaine from Costa Rica concealed inside boxes of cassava bound for the Gigliotti’s Bronx-based import/export company, Farm Fresh Export Corp.
“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,” said Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
Federal agents said they used wiretaps and physical surveillance to determine that between October and December 2014 alone the defendants imported over 55 kilograms of cocaine into the United States from Costa Rica.
In October 2014, law enforcement intercepted boxes of cassava shipped to the United States from Costa Rica and bound for Farm Fresh Export Corp. The shipment was found to contain 40 kilograms of cocaine, authorities said.
Eleonora Gigliotti had allegedly traveled to Costa Rica with approximately $400,000 in cash that she delivered to the sources of supply, prosecutors said. Fazio allegedly traveled from Italy to New York and then to Costa Rica to deliver another $170,000 in cash to the same sources.
An attorney representing Gigliotti, Richard Levitt, declined to comment.
The Gigliottis were arrested in March. Searches of their restaurant and residence at the time turned up a number of guns, loose ammunition and thousands of dollars in cash, the FBI said.
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