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Italian Mafia Boss Apprehended After 20 Years On the Run After Google Maps Sighting

Italian Mafia boss and fugitive Gioacchino Gammino, on the run for more than two decades, was caught by Italian police officials using Google Maps.

Gioacchino Gammino was living under a new name in Spain, where he worked as a chef. Photograph: Google Maps

Italian Mafia boss and fugitive Gioacchino Gammino, on the run for more than two decades, was caught by Italian police officials using Google Maps.

Italian police officials have finally apprehended one of Italy’s most wanted fugitives, Gioaachino Gammino.

Gammino was spotted on Google Maps Street View in Galapagar, a town right outside of Madrid.

Digital Footprints

After his prison escape in 2002, Gammino fled to Spain, where he changed his name to Manuel and opened a fruit and vegetable shop.

Italian police have been searching for Gammino for over twenty years. They finally got a new lead when they spotted someone they thought resembled Gammino on Google Maps.

The image depicts an older man, believed to be Gammino, speaking with someone outside a store called El Huerto De Manu. The store name roughly translates to Manu’s garden.

Giacchino Gammino spotted on Google Maps Street View. Credit: Youtube/The Mob Reporter.
Giacchino Gammino outside of his store on Google Maps Street View. (Credit: Youtube/The Mob Reporter)

Police then searched the nearby area and found a restaurant called Cocina De Manu, or Manu’s Kitchen. The restaurant had closed down; however, police were able to find a Facebook page for it that was still up.

The page featured a picture of Gammino dressed in his chef’s outfit. Police recognized Gammino because of a distinctive scar on his chin. A menu for the restaurant also showed that they were serving a dish called “Cena Siciliana” which translates to “Sicilian dinner”.

Gioacchino Gammino's arrest.
Gioacchino Gammino arrest. Credit: Youtube/II Corriere De Citta.

Gammino was shocked when officers brought him into custody. He was heard telling police, “How did you find me? I haven’t even called my family for ten years.”

Gammino will serve out the rest of his life sentence for murder in an Italian prison.

Shadows of the Underworld

While Gammino is serving time for murder, he has a long rap sheet of other mafia-affiliated crimes.

Gammino is a former member of the Stidda mafia clan based in Agrigento, Sicily. The group had a fierce rivalry with the Cosa Nostra, also based out of Sicily.

His first arrest came in 1984 after being investigated by anti-mafia official Giovanni Falcone. Falcone was later killed in a car bomb explosion.

Gammino was charged with the murder of a civilian in 1989. He reportedly mistook his victim for a member of the mafia. The mafia boss later escaped to Spain, where he remained until authorities apprehended him in 1998. He was then extradited to Italy, where he resumed serving a life sentence for murder until his subsequent escape from prison in 2002.

Cyber Sleuthing

Gioacchino Gammino’s arrest is the culmination of the steadfast efforts of Italian police for over two years.

While police officers used technology such as Google Maps to apprehend Gammino, the program was not the main reason they were able to track him.

The prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Francesco Lo Voi, told the press,

“It’s not as if we spend our days wading through Google Maps to find fugitives. There were many previous and long investigations that led us to Spain. We were on a good path, with Google Maps helping to confirm our investigations.”

This is also not the first time technology has been used to assist police in tracking down and apprehending criminals. It’s become a frequent police practice.

In a 2021 sting operation, law enforcement authorities from the United States, Australia, and Europe used an encrypted messenger app called Anom to apprehend suspected criminals. The app functions similarly to WhatsApp.

By connecting the app to their databases, law enforcement agents gained access to chat rooms involving members of cartels, syndicates, and Triad gangs. Police were able to execute raids for these groups all around the world. 17 countries took part in the efforts.

Similar to Gioacchino Gammino, three years ago, mafia fugitive Marc Feren Claude Biart had been living in the Dominican Republic after fleeing from a drug trafficking charge seven years prior. He worked on behalf of the notorious Ndrangheta mafia group. Biart was finally apprehended by Italian authorities when they saw him in a cooking video on YouTube. Biart did not expose his face, but his tattoos were visible enough to identify him.

Applications such as Anom, Google Maps, and YouTube offer a modern way for law enforcement agencies worldwide to utilize technology to enhance their operations.

Police taking advantage of the most fundamental aspects of tech in their investigations this way could change the face of modern policing as we know it.

Written By

Hello! My name is Carolann, and I am currently a senior in college studying Sociology & Anthropology. In my free time, I love to read, sing, and watch k-dramas. And I am so excited to see what the future holds!

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