Italian mafia fugitive caught after police spot him on Google Maps

An Italian mafia fugitive who was convinced he was beyond the reach of the law after 20 years on the run has finally been caught by Italian detectives – with the help of Google Maps.

Gioacchino Gammino fled Italy two decades ago after escaping from prison and was living a quiet life in Spain, where he had changed his name, found work as a chef and opened a fruit and vegetable shop.

But Italian police were beginning to catch up with him and had a breakthrough when they came across an image on Google Maps showing an elderly man outside a grocery shop in the town of Galapagar north of Madrid.

The street corner store was named El Huerto de Manu – Manu’s Garden.

Since settling in Spain, Gammino had changed his name to Manuel.

Police zeroed in on a Google Map image of an elderly man outside a fruit and veg shop called El Huerto de Manu - and found that it was him Police zeroed in on a Google Map image of an elderly man outside a fruit and veg shop called El Huerto de Manu – and found that it was him Credit: Google Maps

Detectives’ suspicions that the man in the image was the fugitive they were seeking were confirmed when they came across a listing for a nearby restaurant called La Cocina de Manu – Manu’s Kitchen.

It had been closed for some time but an image on its Facebook page showed Gammino in chef’s whites. The 60-year-old was recognisable from a distinctive scar on his chin. On the menu of the restaurant was a specialty described as “Cena Siciliana” – Sicilian supper.

He was arrested on December 17 but his capture has only now come to light.

“How did you find me? I haven’t even phoned my family for the last 10 years,” he reportedly asked police when they arrested him.

He will be sent back to an Italian jail where he will serve a life sentence for murder.

Listed by the Italian interior ministry as one of the country’s most wanted fugitives, Gammino had been convicted of a range of crimes, including murder, mafia association and drug trafficking.

He was part of a mafia clan from Agrigento in Sicily which was embroiled in a bloody feud in the 1990s with Cosa Nostra, the island’s main organised crime network.

First arrested in 1984, he was investigated by high-profile anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, who was assassinated by the mob with a huge car bomb in 1992.

Charged with murder in 1995, Gammino went on the run but was arrested in Barcelona three years later.

He managed to escape from a prison in Rome in 2002 and went on the run again, disappearing without trace.

His arrest last month was the culmination of a two-year operation by detectives in Rome and Sicily.

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