Cops Nab Fugitive Mafia Boss Thanks to Google Street View

Convicted killer Gioacchino Gammino had fled Italy for Spain
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2022 9:39 AM CST
Using Google Street View, Cops Nab Fugitive Mafia Boss
Gioacchino Gammino and another man chat outside a shop in Galapagar, Spain, in this Google Street View image from July 2018.   (Google Maps)

(Newser) – An Italian mafia boss and convicted murderer who escaped from prison in Rome 20 years ago has been arrested in Spain—thanks in part to a sighting on Google Street View. Authorities say they already believed 61-year-old Gioacchino Gammino to be hiding in Spain, though the sighting of him and another man chatting outside a shop in Galapagar, a town of 25,000 near Madrid, in July 2018 confirmed they were on the right track, per the Guardian. Indeed, it appears Gammino, one of Italy's most wanted gangsters, was spotted outside his own fruit and vegetable shop, called El Huerto de Manu, or Manu's Garden.

Authorities soon after discovered a listing for a shuttered restaurant nearby, called La Cocina de Manu or Manu's Kitchen, where Gammino—now using the name Manuel—had served as chef, according to photos shared on the restaurant's still-live Facebook page. The member of Sicilian mafia group Stidda, identified by a scar on the left side of his chin, had even included a Sicilian dinner on the menu, per the BBC. Gammino's arrest came Dec. 17, though it was only reported by La Repubblica on Wednesday. "How did you find me? I hadn't phoned my family for 10 years," he told authorities, per the outlet.

"It's not as if we spend our days wading through Google Maps to find fugitives," Palermo prosecutor Francesco Lo Voi tells the Guardian. "There were many previous and long investigations, which led us to Spain … with Google Maps helping to confirm our investigations." Gammino was serving a life sentence for murder and other crimes when he escaped from Rebibbia prison in Rome in 2002, while a film was being made there. A European arrest warrant was issued for him in 2014. He is expected to be returned to Italy by the end of next month, the deputy director of Italy's anti-mafia police unit tells Reuters. (Read more Spain stories.)

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