You can run but you can't hide, at least not from Google. Google Street View (from Google Maps) helped to catch an Italian mafia boss called Gioacchino Gammino that was on the run for 20 years, reported The Guardian. Gammino was convicted of murder and was among Italy’s most wanted criminals.
He was spotted, and then later arrested, in Galapagar, a town near Madrid. He had successfully managed to stay there for 20 years, get married, work as a chef and purchase a fruit and vegetable shop. He had done all this by changing his name.
A European arrest warrant was issued in 2014 for the criminal who is now 61 and the police had even traced his whereabouts to Spain but it took Google Street View to finally find his exact location. It was an image of two men talking outside a fruit and vegetable shop called El Huerto de Manu (Manu’s Garden) in Galapagar that first piqued the authorities' interest.
“How did you find me? I haven’t even called my family for 10 years!”
They then discovered a listing for a nearby restaurant called La Cocina de Manu (Manu’s Kitchen) and once they checked its Facebook page were then certain they had found their man. They recognized Gammino dressed in his chef's outfit from the distinctive scar on his chin.
Palermo prosecutor Francesco Lo Voi, the leader of the investigation, told The Guardian it was not just luck that led to Gammino's arrest. “It’s not as if we spend our days wading through Google Maps to find fugitives,” he said. “There were many previous and long investigations, which led us to Spain. We were on a good path, with Google Maps helping to confirm our investigations.” It's unclear if Google Maps were in on the case or if they cooperated with the law enforcement agencies involved.
Gammino was arrested on December 17th and it was alleged that he told the cops in shock: “How did you find me? I haven’t even called my family for 10 years!” We can't help but wonder if the police told the gangster it was Google Maps that found him.