In 1976, a moustachioed man named Joe Pistone joined a hijacking crew run by Jilly Greca of the Colombo crime family in New York. He was good under pressure – he was reportedly physically unable to sweat when stressed – and soon graduated to the Bonanno family, where he was trained in the darkest arts by Benjamin “Lefty Guns” Ruggiero and eventually contracted to kill “Bruno” Indelicato and Bonanno capo, Philip “The Priest” Giaccone. Pistone remains adamant that he would have been “made” – or formally inducted into the Mafia – had he murdered Giaccone. No doubt the hit on Indelicato would also have cemented his place in the organisation. But neither killing took place, because Pistone wasn’t a killer: he was an FBI agent living a fictitious life as one Donnie Brasco. In 1981, his handlers decided that the operation had become too dangerous. Despite his protests, Pistone was pulled out. The FBI’s decision was easy. It had been compiling vast amounts of intelligence through Pistone, a...

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