This drug ring was all in the family.
A married Malba couple and their son from Woodside were formally booked Wednesday in a federal indictment for operating an international cocaine smuggling ring out of a Corona restaurant and export company.
Gregorio and Eleonora Gigliotti, ages 59 and 54 respectively, and their son Angelo Gigliotti, 34, were initially arrested on March 11. They were charged with conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, importation of cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine.
Italian authorities arrested on Thursday the Gigliottis’ alleged business partner — Franco Fazio, 56, of Calabria, Italy — along with 12 other defendants allegedly involved in the drug trafficking ring. The Gigliottis also face charges in Italy for various narcotics trafficking offenses.
Federal authorities said the drug ring was revealed through an investigation that included physical surveillance and court-authorized wiretaps.
Last October, federal agents intercepted a shipment of cassava from Costa Rica bound for Fresh Farms Export Corp. based in Corona and operated by the Gigliottis. Upon inspection, the shipment was found to contain 40 kilograms of cocaine.
Another 15 kilograms of the narcotic were recovered in a second cassava shipment to Fresh Farms Export Corp. that federal authorities intercepted in December.
Federal agents learned that the Gigliottis allegedly ran the drug smuggling business out of the export company and Cucino Amodo Mio, a restaurant and pizzeria the couple owned and operated at 51-01 108th St. in Corona. Eleonora Giglotti traveled to Costa Rica prior to the first shipment and made a $400,000 down payment on the product.
Investigators learned that in September, Fazio allegedly traveled from Italy to Costa Rica (by way of New York) and made an additional payment to the drug suppliers.
The FBI raided the home of Gregorio and Eleonora Gigliotti and Cucino Amodo Mio restaurant on March 11 and recovered numerous weapons — including a 12-gauge shotgun, several loaded handguns and brass knuckles — as well as more than $118,000 in cash.
“This case is a powerful example of the impact of international cooperation in combating criminal organizations whose activities transcend national borders,” said Acting U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York Kelly Currie.
“The arrests in New York and Italy dismantle a global network of alleged drug smugglers believed responsible for importing more than 50 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S.,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Raymond Parmer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations.
Each of the Gigliottis face at least 15 years behind bars if convicted on the top charges.