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.
As one of Italy’s most-wanted mobsters who has been convicted of murder, he fled from a prison in Rome in 2002 and was living under the radar in Galapagar, a town north of Madrid.
Since settling in Spain, Gammino had changed his name to Manuel.
Nearby, they found a listing for a restaurant named Cocina de Manu which had been closed for some time.
But its Facebook page was still visible online, showing Gammino posing in his chef’s whites, and the menu had a speciality of Sicilian supper, with a design similar to the icon black and white poster for The Godfather film.
The mafioso was recognisable to detectives thanks to a distinctive scar on his chin.
He was arrested on December 17 but his capture has only now come to light.
Upon his arrest, Mr Gammino is reported to have said: “How did you find me? I haven’t even phoned my family for the last 10 years.”
He will be sent back to an Italian jail where he will serve a life sentence for murder.
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, Mr 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 a trace.
A film was being shot in the Rebibbia prison at the time and he managed to walk out to his freedom after he was confused for a prisoner’s relative.
Some believe an undercover mafia member in uniform may have helped his escape.
His arrest was the culmination of a two-year joint operation led by detectives in Rome and Sicily.
His arrest last month was the culmination of a two-year operation by detectives in Rome and Sicily.
This is not the first time a mafia figure has been caught with the use of public domain internet sources.
Back in March 2021, a mafia fugitive had been caught in the Caribbean after appearing on YouTube cooking videos in which he hid his face but inadvertently showed his distinctive tattoos.
Marc Feren Claude Biart, 53, led a quiet life in Boca Chica, in the Dominican Republic, with the local Italian expat community considering him a “foreigner”, police said in a statement on Monday.
Mr Biart had been on the run since 2014, when Italian prosecutors ordered his arrest for trafficking in cocaine in the Netherlands on behalf of the Cacciola clan of the ’Ndrangheta’ mafia.