Convicted murderer and former mobster Edgardo Greco was arrested by Interpol following 16 years on the run after a small newspaper in France published a story about his new restaurant.
For residents of Saint-Etienne, France, Paolo Dimitrio, or “Rocco” as locals affectionately called him, was an average man looking to make a living as the owner of a new Italian restaurant, Caffè Rossini.
“I only want to offer regional and homemade recipes,” he said proudly to Le Progres, a regional French newspaper, in a 2021 interview about his new restaurant’s opening.
But two years later, that same news article would help authorities identify “Paolo Dimitrio” as Edgardo Greco, a brutal mobster wanted for multiple murders that occurred during a “mafia war” in Italy’s Calabrian province. On Thursday, officers with the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) arrested Greco on his way to start a shift at the pizzeria where he worked.
According to Interpol’s press release about the case, Edgardo Greco was heavily involved in Mafia activity in Italy’s southern Calabria region. In the 1990s, two mafia clans — the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno — dominated the area, and violence between them was so intense, Italian authorities and locals dubbed it a “mafia war.”
CBS News reports that Greco was allegedly a member of the Perna Pranno gang and had ties to the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, Italy’s most powerful crime syndicate. He was also convicted of two murders and accused of another attempted murder in Italy.
According to Le Monde, Greco had bludgeoned two brothers, Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, to death with a metal bar in a fish shop in 1991. Three years after the murders, Greco unearthed their buried bodies and dissolved them in acid to cover his tracks.
In 2006, authorities issued an arrest warrant for Greco as part of a larger Mafia crackdown in the region. But before authorities could arrest him, Greco vanished. The courts convicted Greco of murder in absentia and handed him a life sentence.
Authorities struggled to locate Greco for over 16 years. Lieutenant Col. Dario Pini, commander of the Italian Carabinieri unit that investigated Greco, noted to The New York Times that the mobster was exceptionally difficult to track down, as he did not attempt to contact his family members the entire time he was at large.
On the run and facing multiple warrants for his arrest, including a European arrest warrant, Greco, now going by his alias “Paolo Dimitrio” moved to Saint-Etienne, France and began working in local pizza restaurants. The mobster was untraceable for years until a local news story tipped investigators off to his whereabouts.
In July 2021, an article in the Le Progres newspaper featured a story about the exciting new Italian restaurant opening in St. Etienne. Alongside the story was a photo of “Paolo Dimitrio” standing proud in Caffè Rossini’s dining area. He told the newspaper how he’d lived in St. Etienne for 14 years but was a local at heart, and that his deep knowledge of traditional Italian cuisine, particularly Calabrian cuisine, came from his grandmother.
“No matter how hard fugitives try to slip into a quiet life abroad, they cannot evade justice forever,” Interpol Security General Jürgen Stock stated regarding Greco’s attempts to assimilate to routine life in St. Etienne.
Using the photographs they had of Greco and comparing them to the newspaper article, investigators were able to say with certainty that “Paolo Dimitrio” was Edgardo Greco.
According to the New York Times, Italian investigators informed French authorities of Greco’s residence in St. Etienne and began surveillance operations. Meanwhile, Caffè Rossini closed down, having failed, in part due to the pandemic.
In a joint effort, Interpol and French authorities arrested Edgardo Greco on his way to work at another pizzeria on Feb. 2, 2023.
Lieutenant Col. Dario Pini told the New York Times that Greco initially denied being the mobster, but once Greco met with Italian authorities from Cosenza, Greco “realized it no longer made sense to continue lying.” Greco admitted to being the wanted fugitive, and authorities began working on his extradition process back to Italy.
The search continues for other high-ranking mobsters, especially those affiliated with the ‘Ndrangheta. Despite the work that authorities still need to do, Interpol and Italian investigators celebrated this victory.
“Yet another arrest of a dangerous fugitive shows how constant and fruitful the work on this front is,” Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi stated, according to the New York Times.
When confronted with the truth about Greco’s past, his employers and associates in France were appalled. According to the Times, Maurizio Diana, owner of L’Agora restaurant where Greco worked night shifts, stated that he was “shocked” to learn that he had a convicted killer on staff.
The story of Edgardo Greco holds a valuable lesson: Before you grab your first slice, you might want to get a good look at who made the pizza.
After reading about mobster Edgardo Greco, discover the story of Lester Eubanks, a convicted child-murderer who has been on the run for the last fifty years. Then read about 11 of history’s most daring prison escapes.