American Justice: Season 5, Episode 9

Pizza Connection (1998)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography, Crime
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1998 (USA)  »

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A Lot Of The Usual Suspects!
12 May 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This was a pretty famous case, leading to an amazing sight: 22 gangsters on trial at the same time in the same courtroom! That was a first for the United States. The defendants belonged to one of two parties: American traffickers in heroin or members of the Scilian Mafia. In both cases, you heard an awful lot of Italian names. This whole show sounds like a "Pizza Connection," but it wasn't dubbed that because of any link with Italians but that a pizza parlor served as a link between the two mobs.

The investigation started in the late 1979s after a brutal gangland slaying in New York City. It ended in that famous trial in the mid 1980s. In addition to all the convictions in the U.S., hundreds more were made around the same time in Italy as the two countries, along with Spain, Switzerland and others cooperated in this big bust of men who were making millions in the drug trade through billions of dollars in sales and in money laundering.

There were interesting segments of this detailed, long crime saga. In the opening part which slows the bloody slaying of a gang leader in New York, both his bodyguards were strangely unhurt in that killing. That was the first angle the cops used in a long trail of surveillance of suspects and wiretaps on low-ranking hoods right to the top of the Scilian Mafia. A pizza place, a bakery shop, a public phone booth, Swiss banks and other sites all played instrumental roles in putting most of these hoods in jail. It was a long investigation, and satisfying to prosecutors even if the heroin trade is still formidable.

What I thought was poor taste was the amount of air time given to a defense lawyer in the last segment of this program. He paints these guys as "saints." It is just ludicrous. Thankfully, the jury - and hopefully viewers of this show - don't buy all his nonsense.

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