Arrest of Italian mafia fugitive

Italian mafia fugitive spotted on Google Street View ending 20 years on the run


An Italian mafia fugitive, on the run for 20 years, was caught after detectives spotted him on Google Maps in Spain. Gioacchino Gammino was sentenced to life for a 1989 murder in Italy.

Gioacchino Gammino, an Italian mafia fugitive, escaped prison in 2002 and fled to Spain where he changed his name. Living in Galapagar, a town north of Madrid, he worked as a chef and opened a fruit and vegetable shop.

Italian police were closing the net on him when, fortuitously, they spotted him on Google Street View. He was standing outside a grocery shop named El Huerto de Manu, Manu’s Allotment. Gammino had changed his name to Manuel, of which Manu is a diminutive.

Mafia themed menu

Nearby, the detectives found a listing for a restaurant named Cocina de Manu. The restaurant had been closed for some time, but its Facebook page was still visible. It showed Gammino in his chef’s whites.

There was little subtlety in Gammino’s posting with a speciality Sicilian supper on the restaurant’s menu. It had a design similar to the iconic The Godfather poster.

Gammino was recognisable due to a distinctive scar on his chin.

Gammino’s crimes

A member of the Stidda clan from Agrigento on Sicily, Gammino had a long rap sheet, including drug trafficking and mafia association. Following his first arrest in 1984, his case was investigated by the renowned anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone.

Gammino was later found guilty of murdering a passerby in Campobello di Licata, after mistaking him for a mafioso in 1989. After charges were brough against him, he went on the run. He was arrested in Barcelona in 1998.

Extradition to Italy followed, but he escaped from prison in 2002. A film was being shot in the Rebibbia prison at the time. Gammino walked out the gates after he was confused for a prisoner’s relative.

Some believe an undercover mafia member in uniform may have helped his escape.


Arrested on 17th December, Gammino was baffled as to how police tracked him down. He is reported as saying after his capture, “How did you find me? I haven’t even phoned my family for the last 10 years.” The arrest was the result of a two-year joint operation led by detectives in Rome and Sicily.

A number of Italian mafia have been arrested recently in Spain. Related articles include: 106 arrests on Tenerife and Mafia arrests in Madrid and Rome

He will now be returned to an Italian jail to continue his life sentence for murder.

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