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Frank Panessa – DEA Agent Behind the Takedown of the Pizza Connection 

May 23, 2024

Narcotics trafficking is a global problem. Agents who are sent to fight it can find themselves deep undercover on foreign soil. In this episode, hosts Dutch McAlpin and Giovanni Rocco sit down with retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent Frank Panessa. Frank was at the center of the case known as the “Pizza Connection,” during which he infiltrated the Mafia. As former undercover agents themselves, Giovanni and Dutch are able to ask Frank all the right questions. Frank talks about his start in the DEA, going undercover as a made man, how he got his nickname “The Chameleon” and so much more.  

Frank Panessa worked as an undercover DEA agent for 28 years with multiple deep cover identities. After working investigations around the world, including in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Central America, Panessa retired in 1995 as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Division, where he supervised more than 300 law enforcement personnel. During his DEA tenure, he proudly served as the Italian U.S. Embassy’s chief liaison to Italian police agencies on narcotics and organized crime.  

NYC Taxi Hack License Frank with the bag First heroin buy in Pizza Connection, tucked inside of pants in giftwrapping First heroin buy in Pizza Connection Present