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Mafia killer who dissolved bodies in acid caught working as pizza chef

Edgardo Greco, a convicted murderer linked to Italy's most powerful organized crime group
Edgardo Greco, a convicted murderer linked to Italy's most powerful organized crime group

A convicted mafia killer who had his victims dissolved in acid has been arrested after being discovered working as a pizza maker in France.

Edgardo Greco was captured in the town of Saint-Etienne in southern France, where he worked as a restaurant chef and “pizzaiolo” or pizza maker.

He had adopted the alias Paolo Dimitrio and had been working in the restaurant for at least three years, Italian police said.

He had been on the run for 17 years but was so confident that he would not be found that in 2021 he gave an interview to a local newspaper, talking about the Italian dishes his restaurant offered such as tagliatelle and risotto.

"He was betrayed by his passion for cooking," said Colonel Agatino Saverio Spoto, a Carabinieri commander involved in the hunt for the fugitive. "He had worked as a chef in a noted restaurant in Lyon, he managed his own restaurant and more recently he was working as a pizzaiolo."

The news outlet, Le Progres, featured his restaurant, called Caffe Rossini, telling readers that ‘Paolo Dimitrio’ offered customers “all the tastes of the gastronomy of his home country. On the menu are homemade fresh products, including pasta, desserts and bread.” Prices for four-course meals ranged from £31 to £43.

“Paolo Dimitrio opens the restaurant of his dreams,” said the headline in Le Progres. In the interview, he said he had been living in the Saint-Etienne area for 14 years. He credited his Calabrian grandmother for his culinary "savoir-faire and good taste."

"The menu changes every day with different regional specialties. Here, there's no spaghetti bolognese," he told the paper.

He also allowed himself to be photographed for publicity shots to go with the story.

Greco, 63, is wanted for the murder of two brothers, Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, who were beaten to death with metal bars in a fishmonger’s shop in the town of Cosenza in Calabria in 1991.

Corpses never found

Their corpses were never recovered and investigators believe they were dissolved in acid.

They were allegedly murdered because they had tried to carve out greater autonomy for themselves on their home turf around Cosenza.

Greco was convicted in absentia to life in prison for the murders, according to Interpol. He is also accused of the attempted murder of another alleged mafia gangster named Emiliano Mosciaro.

The killings were part of a mafia war between rival clans in the region in the 1990s.

Greco is a member of the feared ‘Ndrangheta mafia of Calabria, which makes billions each year from trafficking cocaine from South America into Europe.

He went on the run in 2006, evading raids and mass arrests carried out by the Italian police.

It is the second notable capture of a mafia boss in a few weeks. Last month, a special unit of the Carabinieri police captured Matteo Messina Denaro, a convicted killer from Sicily’s Cosa Nostra mafia who had been on the run for 30 years.

The mafia boss was arrested while visiting a health clinic in Palermo, where he was being treated for cancer.

He is now in a maximum security prison in central Italy. Police have discovered several hideouts he used in Sicily. Among the items they found was a Smith & Wesson revolver, posters and fridge magnets from mafia movies like The Godfather, and women’s clothes, suggesting Messina Denaro had a girlfriend or mistress.