Pizzeria Owner Ate Rival, Was Ndrangheta's U.S. Cocaine Connection

The Gigliottis, husband and wife, was the U.S. connection between the
Ndrangheta and South American drug cartels.

A savage freelancing mobster arrested in New York for his part in a transcontinental cocaine trafficking network boasted to his wife that he ate the heart and kidney of a rival who owed him money, it is alleged.

Gregorio Gigliotti was the U.S. broker between the Ndrangheta, considered Italy's richest and most brutal organized crime syndicate, and the South American drug cartels. Despite reports to the contrary, it doesn't appear the New York families are directly implicated in this case.

Longtime Calabria-based anti-Mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri said the 'ndrangheta has for some time been beefing up its presence in the United States: "In New York, right under the Brooklyn Bridge."

A pizzeria in Queens run by Gigliotti and his wife was allegedly the centre of a ring that smuggled cocaine in the linings of cardboard boxes containing cassava and tropical fruit.

In a raid in March police seized $100,000, six pistols, a rifle, cocaine and marijuana at the premises.

An additional 15 were arrested in Italy and the U.S. on Thursday for their alleged part in the international trafficking network.

In one phone conversation recorded in a police wiretap Giglotti allegedly told his wife Eleanora Lucia what he had done to someone who had mislaid $20,000.

'You still don't know me, even you? Do you remember one time I told you that at the same table I ate a soffritto…I ate a kidney and a piece of heart.'

In the August 2014 conversation his wife replied: 'You are half crazy. You are making me vomit Greg.'

Prosecutors allege that he was talking about eating a human being, explaining in the arrest warrant: 'He had literally eaten the organs of the person as gesture of blatant contempt to the victim.'

Also see: The Octopus's Tentacles Reach Far and Wide: “The only thing that can’t be bribed is the weather.” 
--Southern Italian proverb

The mob operative seemingly modeled himself on a gangster in the film Casino, the wire taps reveal. Gigliotti threatened to carry out a violent scene from the Martin Scorsese film in which two characters get beaten with baseball bats and buried alive, prosecutors claim.

'Do you remember the movie Casino?' he asked his son in a recorded conversation. 'Do you remember what happened to the two brothers? This is what I have to do to him.'

The man even threatened to murder his own colleagues, according to investigators in Italy.

He allegedly claimed he would make two alleged Ndrangheta members, Franco and Pino Fazio, who crossed him 'disappear' by 'dissolving them in acid.'

Gigliotti was angry with the brothers, who falsely made him believe that a Ndrangheta colleague had not settled a debt for a consignment of drugs purchased, prosecutors allege.

Recorded by a police wiretap in the car, Gigliotti told his wife 'He and his brother are .. the godfather must give me 35,000.

'But listen, they need to disappear.. and it will be both of them together ..one brother will fall the ground .and the other will not understand what is happening .. and then we will see, they will be dissolved in acid. .. I will show them.. they have no shame, they will have nothing. '

The arrest warrant said: 'These words need no further explanation, revealing a disturbing personality that would push for such serious consequences for a debt of a few thousand euro.' the investigation showed with the brothers his link to the Ndrangheta clans, it is alleged.

This level of brutality is not unusual in the group, based in Calabria, the 'toe' of Italy in the deep south. In 2013 one Ndranghetista admitted feeding a rival alive to pigs in retaliation for the murder of a godfather.

Although the Sicilian Cosa Nostra has found worldwide notoriety, the Ndrangheta has emerged in recent years as the most ruthless and wealthiest crime syndicate in Italy.

Based on close family ties and blood bonds, its tentacles have spread across the globe from Italy. It has established bases in Australia, Spain and the US, and has had a decades-long presence in Canada, where it evolved alongside Cosa Nostra, and in Latin America. The Mafia group may have as many as 60,000 members, according to a recent study.

The Ndrangheta also is the only one of the three main Italian mafias to do business with the South American cartels, acting as an intermediary for other mafia bosses.

Despite its international network, the roots remain obscure. Informants are rare due to close family ties. The members swear oaths for life in masonic rituals using religious symbolism and codes.

What is known is that the crime syndicate began in the mid nineteenth century as bandits who also developed organized methods of extortion and racketeering.

They later moved into kidnappings on an industrial scale, abducting wealthy businessmen or their children, from northern Italy and holding them for ransom.

The group kidnapped around 600 people between the 1960s and 1990s holding many of them in caves on Aspromonte the craggy and inhospitable mountain that runs through the middle of the region. A cross on the mountain was the ransom drop point. Many of them were held for months in terrible conditions and some were never seen again, even if their relatives did pay.

The most famous was the kidnap of John Paul Getty's teenage grandson. His ear was chopped off after his grandfather refused to pay.

Billionaire former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was allegedly forced to employ a stable manager from the Sicilian mafia and pay regular bribes as a guarantee against his kidnap by the Ndrangheta.

Later the syndicate moved into the more profitable area of drugs and are now thought to control some 80 per cent of Europe's cocaine imports.

In 2006, Italy's then interior minister blamed the assassination of a Calabrian  politician on the local Ndrangheta, which he said was 'the most deep-rooted, the most powerful and the most aggressive of [Italy's] criminal organisations'.

They have also been shown to be ruthless, and insensitive even to some of the code of conduct other mafias broadly follow, such as not killing children or attacking priests.

Last year three-year-old Coco Campolongo was murdered by the Ndrangheta because his gangster grandfather was considering turning state witness.

The group go to extreme lengths to stop the police and judicial authorities from acting against them. In 2010 they planted a Yugoslavian bazooka near a courthouse in southern Italy as act of intimidation following a crack down and hundreds of arrests.