FBI Awards Medal
to Italian Police Chief
Mueller awarded Italian National
Police Chief Giovanni De Gennero
the FBI's Medal of Meritorious
The FBI bestowed one of its top honors on
the chief of the Italian National Police for
his pivotal role in a decades-long relationship
that initially targeted organized crime connections
in the U.S. and Italy but that has evolved
into a model of international law-enforcement
a ceremony Friday at FBI Headquarters in Washington,
D.C., Director Robert S. Mueller presented
Giovanni De Gennaro with the FBI's Medal of
Meritorious Achievement, an award that recognizes
courageous and selfless acts that protect
and save the lives of others. De Gennaro's
work on the front lines against Italian organized
crime put him in constant periland atop
the Sicilian Mafia's hit list. Despite the
dangers, he played a central role in a number
of major cases in the mid-'80s with the FBI
that significantly hobbled Italian organized
crime in the U.S. Friday's presentation marked
the first time the medal has been awarded
to one of the FBI's international partners.
his law enforcement career, Prefetto De Gennaro
has shown great courage in the face of unremitting
danger and been a champion of the cause of
justice," Director Mueller said. "His
efforts have directly contributed to our success
in combating the threat of organized crime."
was the partnership with the Italian National
Police, Mueller said, that was the precursor
for the FBI's network of 58 Legal Attaché
offices around the world, where we work closely
with local law enforcement on issues of mutual
interest, like terrorism, international trafficking,
and transnational organized crime. Mueller
praised the foresight of his predecessor,
Louis Freeh, who worked closely with De Gennaro
in the trenches as a prosecutor in New York
and later as FBI Director, for expanding the
FBI's presence oversees.
cooperation is vital to our success,"
Gennaro, who rose up through the ranks since
joining the Italian police in 1973, called
the FBI honor "one of the most important
days of my professional life."
Gennaro played a key role in investigations
that led to prosecutions of some 800 people
in the U.S. and Italy, most notably the "Pizza
Connection" and "Iron Tower"
investigations into international heroin smuggling.
The operations significantly reduced Italian
influence in the drug trade in the U.S. The
Sicilian Mafia responded harshly to the crackdowns,
assassinating Italian prosecutors in succession,
including a 1992
bombing that killed Giovanni Falcone,
a beloved judge and former prosecutor who
had put hundreds of Mafiosi behind bars.
dedicate this medal to his memory and to so
many other Italian officers," De Gennaro
Director Freeh, who honored his former partner
by relating some of his remarks in Italian,
called the relationship between the FBI and
Italian police "the single best operational
partnership in the world."
power of the relationship has changed the
face of organized crime," Freeh said.
To De Gennaro, he said, "You, for us,
signify not just great courage, but great
- Director Mueller's
Release on Award of Meritorious Achievement