A CONVICTED drugs trafficker with links to the Italian mafia has been living in a flat above a Lancashire off-licence while claiming housing benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Giuseppe Persico was previously on the run from the Italian authorities for drugs offences and was convicted of drugs trafficking in November 2008 when he was extradited to Italy.
It is understood he served a three-year jail term there, but returned to his old haunts in Chorley on his release and has been living on benefits.
Sources say he even sought assistance from the Help the Homeless charity in Chorley. He hit the headlines five years ago when his links to the notorious Naples mafia, the Camorra, emerged.
When the Evening Post caught up with Persico, he denied ever being a member of the mafia and claimed the Italian authorities had jailed him with no evidence.
He said: “I’m trying to live a normal life. I am not a member of the mafia. If I was a member of the mafia I would have money.
“There’s a simple explanation. I was born in Naples where there are a lot of people in the mafia and if you are ever seen talking to anyone in a bar, they think you are too.”
He admitted he had previously been arrested, in 1997, but would not say why.
Persico previously lived and worked in Chorley for two years while on the run.
He had been working with a removals firm in Adlington, and had lived in Geoffrey Street and Eaves Lane.
He was a regular in the Bretherton Arms in the town.
But in 2007, police swooped on him at Faro airport in Portugal and extradited him to Italy, where he was jailed for drugs trafficking.
It came 18 months after a mafia don, Gennaro Panzuto, was extradited from Lancashire on behalf of the Italian authorities.
Panzuto then turned into a supergrass, confessing to involvement in mafia murders and naming other members.
He had been living a secret life in Cock Robin Lane, Catterall, near Garstang, with his wife and children.
In one conversation, Persico told the Evening Post he had no links to Panzuto, but then called him a “grass”.
Then in a second phone call Persico admitted: “I had met him once. He asked me to act as his interpreter so he could rent a house. I was living near him at the time. I tried for a couple of days then I had enough.
“I didn’t know him in Naples.”
Persico claims on his release from prison in Rome in November 2011