‘Law & Order: SVU’: Octavio Pisano Talks Velasco & Benson’s Bond

Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson, Octavio Pisano as Detective Joe Velasco in Law & Order: SVU
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Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The sex crimes unit’s newest player is definitely not your typical NYC cop. Law & Order: SVU‘s Det. Joe Velasco (Octavio Pisano) grew up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, violent cartel territory. After getting mixed up with gang members, he crossed the border when he was 14 and eventually came to New York, where he later joined the force and became a deep undercover agent.

Moving to Special Victims, he’s had to change his mindset: No more doing whatever it takes to stop the bad guys. “This is the education of Joe Velasco,” Pisano explains. “You still gotta take them to court. Everything has to follow protocol to take the job all the way.”

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Nonetheless, the character has found a bond with Capt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Like her, he “connects to the victims personally,” Pisano says. That’s especially true tonight when his hometown priest believes three missing young women have been sex-trafficked to NYC. The storyline also strikes a chord with the actor, who was raised in Tijuana. “I do know that world and I have sisters,” he says. “So I can easily put myself in that situation.”

Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC