A mob hitman who had been on the run for 16 years was arrested Thursday in France, where he worked as a pizza maker.

Edgardo Greco, 63, who authorities say has ties to the notorious Italian criminal group ‘ndranghetha and was convicted of killing two people in the early 1990s, was arrested by French police in the city of Saint-Étienne. , in the south-east of France.

Described as a dangerous fugitive, Greco was sentenced to life in prison for the 1991 murders of brothers Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo. Italian police said in a statement that both were beaten to death with a metal rod at a fishmonger in Calabria. «Their bodies were made to disappear and have never been found again,» police said.

Greco is also charged with attempted murder in a separate case.

The Italian news agency ANSA said Greco had been working as a pizza maker in an Italian restaurant in France under a false identity. Italian police released a photo of Greco in a white chef’s coat in what appears to be a restaurant kitchen.

Interpol, the international law enforcement agency that coordinated the case with French and Italian law enforcement, said Greco’s crimes were linked to the «mafia wars» of the early 1990s between Pino Sena organized crime gangs. and Perna Pranno in the Cosenza region of southern Italy.

He was held responsible for the two deaths during the so-called Maxi Trial, which tried and convicted hundreds of mafia members between 1986 and 1992. Police said he «evaded execution» of a remand warrant related to that trial in 2006.

The public prosecutor’s office in Catanzaro, in southern Italy, issued a European arrest warrant for Greco after he escaped from police custody in October 2006.

An Interpol statement said French police, with the help of Italian colleagues, arrested Edgardo Greco in Saint-Etienne, France.
An Interpol statement said French police, with the help of Italian colleagues, arrested Edgardo Greco in Saint-Etienne, France. Interpol/AP

Thursday’s arrest comes two weeks after Italian police arrested mob boss Matteo Messina Denaro, who also had ties to ‘ndrangetha and spent decades on the run as Italy’s most wanted man.

“No matter how hard fugitives try to find a peaceful life abroad, they cannot evade justice forever. Dedicated officers around the world will always ensure that justice is done,» Matteo Piantedosi, Italy’s interior minister, said in a statement.

“The capture of Edgardo Greco brings one of the worst Italian criminals to justice and demonstrates, for the umpteenth time, the capacity and commitment of our police forces, which on this occasion have acted in collaboration with the French authorities,” he said.

The operation was part of Interpol’s I-CAN project, an Italian-funded initiative launched in 2020 to target the ‘ndrangetha criminal group. Interpol says it has helped arrest dozens of fugitives around the world.

The ‘ndrangetha has long been a major concern of the Italian authorities. It is considered the most dangerous and powerful Italian criminal group, with global ties and strong ties to the South American cocaine trade bound for Europe.

Some 350 suspected members of n’drangetha appeared before a court in Calabria, southern Italy, in another mass trial in 2021.

victoria di gioacchino Y nancy contributed.