Queens Father And Son Convicted At Trial For Their Participation In A Transnational Cocaine Trafficking Operation
One Defendant also Convicted of Weapons Charges in Connection with Possession of a Stash of Firearms Hidden in the Basement of his Queens Restaurant
This afternoon, following a two week trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, returned a guilty verdict against Gregorio and Angelo Gigliotti for their operation of a transnational cocaine trafficking operation that stretched from Italy, to Queens and to Costa Rica. Gregorio Gigliotti was also convicted of possessing a stash of firearms in connection with the operation. When sentenced by United States District Judge Raymond J. Dearie, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Gregorio Gigliotti faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, and Angelo Gigliotti faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The verdict was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York; and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
“This case serves as a powerful example of the impact of international cooperation in combatting criminal organizations whose activities transcend national borders,” stated United States Attorney Capers. Mr. Capers thanked our law enforcement partners in Italy, including the Prosecutor of the Republic of Reggio Calabria; the Italian National Police (INP), and in particular, the Squadra Mobile of Reggio Calabria and the Servizio Centrale Operativo; the Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga; and the Direzione Nazionale Antimafia, as well as our law enforcement partners in Costa Rica, including the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial. Mr. Capers also expressed his gratitude to the U.S. Department of Justice Attaché and the Offices of the HSI and FBI Legal Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, as well as the FBI Legal Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Panama City, who coordinated extensive evidence-sharing and coordinated operations. Mr. Capers also thanked the New York City Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration for their assistance in this matter.
“This family run business served more than just pizza to its customers, using store fronts like a pizzeria to import large amounts of cocaine,” said HSI New York Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez. “Like father like son, both of these defendants will likely be spending the next several years in jail.”
“This case has sentiments of the famous Pizza Connection case- an organized crime family running a narcotics trafficking ring fronted from a family restaurant in New York. Today’s guilty verdict matches the past. We are pleased to say that another organized crime enterprise’s attempt at evading law enforcement has been disrupted. We thank our law enforcement partners here, in Italy and Costa Rica for their continued cooperation,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez.
Evidence presented at trial - including court-authorized wiretaps and physical surveillance - revealed that Gregorio Gigliotti, together with his wife, owned and operated several businesses in New York City that were used to facilitate their narcotics-trafficking operation, including Cucino Amodo Mio, an Italian restaurant and pizzeria in Corona, Queens, and Fresh Farm Produce Export Corp., an import company. Their son, Angelo Gigliotti, played the role of Gregorio’s trusted assistant, including handling the drug trafficking operation when Gregorio was out of the country. In October 2014, law enforcement intercepted a shipment of cassava (a starchy root also referred to as yucca) that was shipped to the United States from Costa Rica and bound for Fresh Farm Produce Export Corp. in New York. The shipment was found to contain approximately 40 kilograms of cocaine secreted inside cardboard boxes of cassava. Earlier, Gigliotti’s wife traveled to Costa Rica with more than $360,000 in cash that she delivered to the sources of supply. In September 2014, Franco Fazio, a relative and Italian national, traveled from Italy to New York and then to Costa Rica to deliver another $170,000 in cash to the sources of supply.
In December 2014, law enforcement intercepted a second shipment of cassava bound for Fresh Farm Produce Export Corp. in New York that had also been shipped from Costa Rica and seized approximately 15 kilograms of cocaine secreted within the cardboard boxes of the produce. Prior to the arrival of this shipment of cocaine, Fazio had made two additional trips to Costa Rica to meet with the sources of supply.
The Gigliotti defendants were arrested on March 11, 2015, in New York. That same day, law enforcement searched Cucino Amodo Mio as well as Gregorio and his wife’s residence. In the restaurant they seized one 12 gauge shotgun, one loaded .357 magnum Trooper revolver, one loaded .22 caliber Colt pistol, one.38 caliber Charter Arms revolver, one 9 mm Keltec pistol, one .762 Czech pistol, one .38 caliber Derringer that had a defaced serial number, ammunition magazines, loose ammunition, two handgun holsters, brass knuckles, more than $100,000 in cash, and a drug ledger detailing the disbursement of money made on the sale of narcotics. In the Gigliotti residence, agents recovered a loaded handgun and more than $18,000 in cash.
The charges in the indictment against co-defendants Eleonora Gigliotti and Franco Fazio remain pending. These charges are merely allegations, and these defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Margaret E. Gandy and Keith D. Edelman are in charge of the prosecution.
Queens, New York
Queens, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-CR-204 (S-2) (RJD)