Britain's Ndrangheta Princess: 10 Things You'd Want to Know

Marisa Merico may look like any other mother on the Blackpool school run.

But the truth could hardly be more different.

Born into Italy's most powerful crime syndicate, the Ndrangheta, Marisa was a Mafia princess from the start, and destined to lead a life of crime.
At age 22, Marisa Merico was a Ndrangheta boss while her father
was imprisoned; she'd been a member since age 18.

A list of 10 things you should know about her...and more of her story afterward.

Marisa, 44, living in England...
  • Marisa Merico, 44, was born to an Italian Mafia boss and his English wife
  • Her father, Emilio Di Giovine, ran one of Italy's most powerful, deadly gangs

  • The Ndrangheta was based in the Milan home of Marisa's grandmother

  • Marisa's mother, Patricia, took her back to Blackpool when she was nine

  • But she returned to Italy every summer, staying for good once she turned 18
  • Marisa fell in love with gang member Bruno Merico and started smuggling
  • By 22, her father was in prison and asked her to run crime empire for him
  • But she was imprisoned for money laundering and sent to Durham Prison
  • Marisa is now a mother of two and rebuilding her life doing cleaning jobs
  • Her father has gone straight and is living under a new identity in safe house

At seven she was in court to see her father, injured in a gangland shooting, stretchered into court to face charges of handling stolen goods.

At 13, she was visiting her father, convicted of murdering a mobster rival, in prison; by 18, she had joined the Mob herself, and by 22 she was running it while her father gave her orders from his maximum security jail cell.

Today, Marisa is a Blackpool housewife, and thankful for it.

"I've put that all behind me, and I'm at peace at last," she says. "My friends occasionally ask about it, but I'm leading a different life now, and I'm glad I am."

Marisa's story began in the late 1960s, when her mother Patricia Reilly, a young Catholic girl from Blackpool, went to work as an au pair in Milan. She fell in love with a Sicilian hairdresser, but one day he told her his family had organised an arranged marriage for him, and they had to split up.

Sobbing, Patricia ran out of his house onto the street, where she was confronted by three young men hanging out of a car.

'Hello beautiful,' one of them called to her. 'Want a lift?'

One of them, Emilio di Giovine, was particularly handsome. Patricia didn't hesitate, leapt in, and he took her for a drink...