Joe Mazzilli is the founder and team leader of the Runaway Squad. Growing up, Mazzilli never thought he would be a cop, but went on to serve 15 years with the NYPD, nine of those years with the Organized Crime Control Bureau, where he infiltrated the mob. During his years of deep undercover, Mazzilli’s work led to major mob arrests for murder, drug trafficking, assault, gambling, and hijacking. He was promoted to detective and given the medal of valor.
Mazzilli started the “Pimp Squad” in the NYPD with a fellow officer. While focusing on arresting pimps, Mazzilli discovered the plight of prostitutes – many were underage runaways – and he worked hard to convince them to leave the lifestyle and return home. Often, he would reunite them with their families, igniting a passion for working with runaways that would last a lifetime.
After leaving the NYPD, Mazzilli immediately became a private investigator and started a very successful security company, “Protect-All.” In addition to providing security to companies and individuals, Mazzilli started to take runaway cases, eventually offering his service for free to families in need. This effort turned into the Runaway Squad, a team of men and women who do everything they can to bring runaways home and help them reconcile and reunite them with their families.
Mazzilli also started a not-for-profit organization, the Runaways Assistance Program (R.A.P.), which aims to enlist retired law enforcement or private investigators on a pro-bono basis to volunteer their investigative services to find runaways. The program will also offer ongoing support for the runaways after they are found. R.A.P hopes to enact laws to better serve and assist juveniles in the system and ensure that a recovered runaway can receive the appropriate evaluation and treatment for drug or behavioral problems in a secure facility.
Mazzilli is married to Gemma Cotto, who works with him at his investigative firm. In his spare time, he enjoys bodybuilding, martial arts, and writing songs.