Transgender Mafia Don Murdered in Naples

An aspiring Camorra crime boss—and trans male—was tortured and murdered by rivals, but police say his gender wasn’t at issue in the gruesome murder.

05.16.16 7:37 PM ET

ROME — Giovanna “Gió” Arrivoli, an aspiring Neapolitan Camorra crime boss, was a female who identified as a male. And, as it would happen, he was murdered like one, too.  

The 41-year-old, who had reportedly not yet completed full gender reassignment surgery, was tortured and shot last week, allegedly by rival Camorra gang members. The killers employed the usual devices saved for male murders, including days of torture, the breaking of Arrivoli’s jaw (presumably to get the victim to talk) and three fatal gunshots: two to the heart and one to the brain. Then Arrivoli was buried head first in the ground, a sign that the killing was likely a vengeance act for betrayal, according to local media reports quoting police sources.

Local police are working on two different theories for the motive of the murder, neither of which have to do with Arrivoli’s transgender status. The first is that Arrivoli had racked up an enormous debt for drugs not yet sold, which perhaps led to a confrontation about the debt. Police are working on the theory that perhaps Arrivoli was given three days to come up with the money, or die.

Arrivoli’s live-in girlfriend alerted police after two days, which investigators say may mean she also tried to raise funds. She is not yet cooperating with the investigation.

The second theory is that one of Arrivoli’s brothers-in-law had recently betrayed the clan with Arrivoli’s knowledge, which amounted to the ultimate betrayal.

What this means, other than the fact that Camorra violence is on the rise again, is that the Camorra is surprisingly open when it comes to accepting trans individuals among their ranks and rivals. In fact, former anti-mafia prosecutor Raffaele Cantone recently spoke of an emerging trans boss who was leading one of the Camorra’s drug clans. Whether Arrivoli was that person is not yet known.

Mafia thugs do kill women, and children, too, but the rituals are generally different, and they almost never physically torture them, according to Roberto Saviano, a Mafia author who is living under police protection for his book Gomorrah, about the Neapolitan Camorra.

It would appear that the Camorra clans also respected Arrivoli’s gender reassignment, which is something trans Italians struggle with in almost every other sector of society. Arrivoli reportedly ran a lucrative drug trade out of a coffee bar called the Blue Moon on the outskirts of Scampia, near Naples, easily the most dangerous of all the Camorra strongholds. Arrivoli apparently used the business as a power center for Camorra clan boss Amato Pagano’s activities, which ranged from torching cars and knee-capping rivals to drugs and extortion, according to press reports. The bar was also apparently a center for aspiring Camorristi who wanted to be accepted into a clan.  

Police apparently noted Arrivoli’s transformation and the Camorra’s acceptance, documenting how other Camorra gang members for years referred to him as a “mascuolona,” which is a derogatory term used to describe effeminate men, but had more recently started referring to Arrivoli as a full male, according to Naples newspaper Il Mattino

No one may ever know for sure just why Arrivoli died, but for now it seems clear that it certainly wasn’t because of his gender.