January 18, 2022 10:08 pm

One of the most wanted gangsters by the Italian police was arrested in Madrid thanks to google maps

Correspondent in Rome



The history of the mobster Gioacchino Gammino, a fugitive for 20 years and detained in Spain thanks to a photo found on Google Maps, is from a movie. Gammino, 61 years old, like many other mobsters living in Spain, felt at home, without raising suspicions working as a merchant and cook in Galapagar, a municipality of 25,500 inhabitants north of Madrid. He was one of the most wanted and dangerous mobsters. He felt so safe that when he was discovered in his hiding place in Galapagar, on December 17, he snapped at the Italian agents of the DIA (Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate) who arrested him, in collaboration with the Spanish police, in a bizarre operation: « How did you find me? I haven’t even called my family for ten years!

Gioacchino Gammino is known as the “Spaniard” for his close relations with our country. He has a Spanish family in Sant Pere de Ribes. With his wife Maria Vinet Pérez Ruiz he had a daughter in 1992, whom he named Angela, the same as his Sicilian grandmother. Gammino was arrested for the first time in a bar in the center of Barcelona in the late 1990s. He thought that, after twenty years in hiding and having severed all ties to the past, Galapagar was a safe haven. But the traces of the mafia boss appeared by surprise, in the most unexpected way, on Google Maps, according to the newspaper ‘La Repubblica’ today.

For the DIA investigators and the Palermo prosecutors, these Google images were a decisive help: In front of a fruit and vegetable store on the ‘Avenida de los Volunteers’ in Galapagar, with a sign of ‘El huerto de Manu’ , the figure of a man is glimpsed that reminds a lot of Gammino. From the local phone, the investigators arrived at a nearby restaurant, closed since 2014, ‘La cocina de Manu’. The specialty on the menu was “Sicilian dinner.” On Facebook agents found a photo of the chef, Manuel. That is actually Gioacchino Gammino. The investigators of the Palermo DIA had no doubt: The man who was included among the 100 most wanted gangsters by the police had been immortalized on Google Maps. It had been almost 20 years since he escaped from the Roman prison of Rebibbia, in a spectacular escape, but a scar on the left side of his chin was not canceled with the passage of time.

Movie escape

His jailbreak was a movie. On June 26, 2002 he managed to escape during the filming of a film in prison with the actress Vittoria Belvedere. While filming an alarm occurred because a prisoner was caught climbing a wall to escape. It was the simulation of an escape attempt, arranged to distract attention. In the confusion that was created in those moments, the relatives of the inmates were diverted towards the exit of the jail. Gammino found it very easy to blend in with them. The question remained whether the mobster had the help of a uniformed mole. Since then, the tracks of Gioacchino Gammino have been lost, until he reappeared on Google Maps.

Now the mafia boss will have to serve a life sentence in an Italian jail. Meanwhile, the investigations continue, because the police have well-founded suspicions that Gammino’s business activities were just a cover for other shady deals. The mobster had a history of drug trafficking. But those criminal activities are not seen on Google Maps.

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