An Italian mafia boss on the run for 20 years has been found in a Spanish town after being spotted on Google Street View.
Gioacchino Gammino, a convicted murderer and one of Italy’s most wanted gangsters, was arrested in Galapagar, a town near Madrid, where over the years he got married, changed his name to Manuel, worked as a chef and owned a fruit and vegetable store.
Sicilian police conducted several investigations looking for Gammino, 61, and a European arrest warrant was issued in 2014. The fugitive was found in Spain, but it was Google Street View that helped locate his precise location.
The navigation tool, accessible via Google Maps, had captured an image of two men chatting outside a fruit and vegetable store called El Huerto de Manu, or Manu’s Garden, in Galapagar. Police believed one of the men looked a lot like Gammino, but his identity was not confirmed until they came across a listing for a nearby restaurant called La Cocina de Manu or Manu’s Kitchen.
The shop and restaurant are now closed, but police have found a photo of Gammino, wearing his chef costume, on a still existing Facebook page of La Cocina de Manu. He was recognizable by the scar on the left side of his chin. The restaurant menu included a dish called Cena Siciliana or Sicilian Dinner.
Gammino was arrested on December 17, but details surrounding his capture were not revealed until they were reported by La Repubblica on Wednesday.
Details were confirmed by Palermo prosecutor Francesco Lo Voi, who led the latest investigation. “It’s not like we spend our days scouring Google Maps for fugitives,” he told The Guardian. “There have been many previous and long inquiries which have taken us to Spain. We were on the right track, with Google Maps helping to confirm our investigations. “
After 20 years in hiding, Gammino believed he had managed to sever all ties with Sicily. When he was arrested, he reportedly told the police, “How did you find me? I haven’t even called my family for 10 years!
Gammino belonged to a mafia clan in Agrigento, Sicily, which got caught up in a bloody feud with Cosa Nostra, Sicily’s main mafia network, in the 1990s. He was first arrested in 1984, when he was investigated by anti-Mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, who was murdered by the Mafia in a car bomb in 1992.
Gammino was wanted for murder and various other Mafia related crimes. He was arrested a second time in Barcelona in 1998. He was serving a life sentence in Rebibbia prison in Rome when in 2002 he managed to escape during the uproar of the shooting of a movie in Rome. the prison.
This is not the first time that a Mafia fugitive has been captured using the web. In March of last year, Mark Feren Claude Biart was captured in the Caribbean after appearing in YouTube cooking videos. Biart had been on the run since 2014, when Italian prosecutors ordered his arrest for cocaine trafficking in the Netherlands on behalf of the Cacciola clan of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia.
Until his arrest, Biart led a quiet life among the Italian expat community in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic. Although YouTube videos of him flaunting his cooking skills never showed his face, police say he was betrayed by the distinctive tattoos on his body.
In 2019, police arrested a mobster from the Camorra mafia organization while eating pasta with his two cats sitting next to him in an apartment on the outskirts of Naples.