Marisa Merico – Keynote Speaker

Former Member of the Italian Mafia and Expert on Organised Crime

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Marisa Merico Profile Picture

Specialist Subjects

  • Organised Crime
  • Money Laundering
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Prison Reform
  • The Mafia



  • English
  • Italian


Marisa Merico was the daughter of one of Italy’s most notorious Mafia Godfathers, Emilio DiGiovine. To her he was all powerful, sophisticated and loving; to the rest of the world he was staggeringly ruthless.

Born to an English mother, Marisa Merico turned her back on her quiet life in Blackpool to join Emilio DiGiovine, who had spent years trying to tempt her back to Italy. Arriving in Milan, Marisa had no idea she was returning to the heart of one of the most notorious drugs, arms and money laundering empires in the world. Marisa was drawn ever deeper into the family’s sinister and brutal regime, witnessing things she was too scared to believe. She eloped with her father’s chief henchman and her father decided she should be initiated into the true nature of the family business. Merico saw there was no limit to what he would expect her to do for him.

When the family were betrayed, her father and 90 other members of the DiGiovine family were imprisoned in a 6-month trial that gripped Italy. Merico served time in prison in both England and Italy, and was released from prison in 1998. Whilst in prison, she was a high security prisoner due to her family connections, which made her prison experience significantly different to the journey other women experience when incarcerated. An advocate for prison reform she is committed to changing the prison system and helping other women who have experience in the criminal justice system.

Marisa Merico is now out of prison and lives in Blackpool with her daughter & son. She is a businesswoman and is currently completing an undergraduate degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Lancaster University. She also works in the voluntary sector, with women at the Lancashire Women’s Centre.

Marisa Merico’s extraordinary story is the most powerful portrayal of a Mafia family to emerge in recent years. It’s the perfect balance of shocking violence, dangerous betrayals and enduring love.
She frequently talks about her unique experiences at events, using her expertise to give her view on organised crime and the grim realities of prison life. Merico has written a book about her life and engages in media work, detailing her experiences of the Mafia and prison. She is currently working on a media based project about her life.

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