GOOGLE MAPS AND YOUTUBE HELPED PROSECUTORS CATCH TWO MAFIA FUGITIVES
Unintentional appearances on the internet lead to the arrest of Gioacchino Gammino and Marc Biart.
Italian police tracked down fugitives Gioacchino Gammino and Marc Feren Claude Biart, who had been on the run for years, with the help of none other than the iconic Google Maps.
Gammino was arrested in Spain after living under a different name and working as a cook in Galapagar, a town near Madrid. The police conducted several investigations in an attempt to locate Gammino, but ultimately, it was Google Street View that pinpointed his location.
A Google Maps navigation tool helped authorities identify two men who were seen talking outside a shop in Galapagar. One of them resembled Gammino's physique. Later on, after further investigation, the prosecutors confirmed the identity that it was the 61 years old fugitive from Italy.
The police also found a photo of Gammino posing in his chef's uniform at a restaurant. He was also recognizable by a scar on his left chin. Nicola Altiero, deputy director of the Italian anti-mafia police unit, said, "The photogram helped us to confirm the investigation we were developing in traditional ways."
The prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Francesco Lo Voi, noted that his team was not using Google Maps as a primary tool to get information. His team had had a lead indicating that Gammino might be in Spain and followed it. "There were many previous and long investigations, which led us to Spain. We were on a good path, with Google Maps helping to confirm our investigations," Voi noted.
After two decades on the run, Gammino was shocked that he was found, for he had already severed ties with his family. "How did you find me? I haven't even called my family for ten years," he said upon his arrest.
Gammino was a part of a Sicilian mob family, Stidda, that was involved in a violent feud with the Cosa Nostra. In 1984, his first arrest happened.
He was wanted for various crimes by the Italian police, including other mafia-related crimes. He was arrested again in Spain in 1998 and served a life sentence at Rebibbia prison in Rome. He escaped from jail when a film production took place in the jail in 2002.
Another fugitive who was caught on the internet for an unintentional appearance happened on March 2021. Youtube, not cooperatively, helped authorities track down Marc Feren Claude Biart, a fugitive from the Sicilian mob who appeared in YouTube cooking videos. He was apprehended after going on the run since 2014.
Biart was a known Italian community member in the Dominican Republic. The 53-year-old fugitive was arrested at Milan's Malpensa Airport. It was part of an international effort to fight the Sicilian mob known as the Ndrangheta.
The Ndrangheta's operation is vast. It is based in South America, Europe, and Canada and controls most of the cocaine market in North America and Australia.
The mob has been involved in cocaine trafficking and murder from the Calabrian region in Italy's boot-shaped peninsula. Its operations were traced back to the region's home base.
Authorities ordered the arrest of Biart in 2014 for drug trafficking. He fled to Costa Rica the arrest warrant was issued. Biart posted tutorials for Italian cooking recipes on YouTube during his free time on the run. Knowing that he was a fugitive, he hid his face in the videos.
Before his arrest, the police believed his distinct tattoos betrayed Biart in his cooking videos. Similarly, with Gammino's case, the prosecutors never saw their faces. It was their distinctive features that snitched on them.
Following Biart's arrest, Fransesco Pelle, another alleged mafioso, was arrested in Portugal while receiving treatment for COVID-19.
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