DETROIT -

Federal agents began digging up a field in northern Oakland Township Monday in hopes of finding the remains of Jimmy Hoffa.

The former Teamsters president's disappearance on July 30, 1975, is one of America's greatest unsolved mysteries.

Mafia underboss Tony Zerilli told WDIV in an exclusive interview earlier this year that Jimmy Hoffa was buried in a shallow grave in this field.

Zerilli was second in command with the Detroit mafia. He says he was told by a mafia enforcer that Hoffa was abducted at a restaurant in Bloomfield Township and brought to the area on Buell Road in Oakland Township and buried.

Oakland Township Hoff dig

The original plan, according to the aging mobster, was to bury him here temporarily  and then take him up to northern Michigan and bury him at a hunting lodge in Rogers City.

The plan to move Hoffa from the Buell Road site was abandoned because police efforts to find Hoffa were too intense at the time, according to Zerilli.

Zerilli is the son of Joseph Zerilli, who was the mob boss in Detroit at the time Hoffa disappeared.

The property being searched today was once owned by mafia member Jack Tocco, Tony Zerilli's cousin, and became the head of the Detroit mafia after Hoffa's disappearance.

Zerilli told WDIV Defender Kevin Dietz and the FBI that mafia enforcer Tony Giacalone informed him that Hoffa was buried on this property. FBI agents and a US attorney who investigated the case say Tony Zerilli is among a handful of people who would know what happened the day Jimmy Hoffa disappeared.

Official FBI reports indicate that federal investigators believe Hoffa was killed by organized crime in an effort to keep them from regaining power with the Teamsters.

Today's dig comes after several months of the FBI investigating Tony Zerilli's story.

A federal judge agreed there is enough evidence to warrant a search of the property.

Zerilli tells WDIV that he is coming forward now because he is broke and needs money.

When he was released from prison in 2009, he tried to contact his cousin and former mafia boss Tocco for financial help but his pleas were ignored.

Tocco reportedly blames Zerilli for being careless with information that led to a massive FBI investigation into loansharking in Detroit.

The FBI is expected to talk about the dig at a 10 a.m. press conference.
Local 4 is on the scene and will continue to bring you the latest developments.

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