Italian mafia fugitive is caught after his YouTube cooking show tips off police
Stanley Tucci's not the only one with a popular Italian cooking show, it would seem.
A mafia fugitive has been arrested in the Dominican Republic after inadvertently tipping off police with his culinary hobby.
After seven years on the run, Marc Feren Claude Biart was tracked down through a YouTube cooking channel he started with his wife, Italian police said in a statement.
The alleged gangster's "love for Italian cuisine” — and tattoo ink — made his arrest possible, police said.
Though he carefully hid his face, Biart failed to disguise his distinctive body tattoos, they added.
Police said they believe Biart is a member of the notorious ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate — one of the most feared and powerful in Europe — from the Calabria region at the toe of southern Italy's boot-shaped peninsula.
He had been wanted for allegedly trafficking cocaine from the Netherlands since 2014, police said.
Biart, 53, had been living in the Dominican Republic for the past five years and police said he had been keeping a low profile during his stay in the Caribbean — besides the cooking videos posted to the internet.
He was known to locals as simply “Marc” and kept his distance from the Italian community in the popular tourist destination.
Lt. Col. Massimiliano Galasso, a Reggio-Calabria police official, told NBC News that authorities had never stopped searching for Biart and had recently turned to open source intelligence.
Alerted by his wife's YouTube activity and armed with the knowledge that the fugitive had previously worked at a restaurant in Italy, Galasso said, police discovered the cooking videos and realized they had their man.
The search culminated in his arrest last week in the Dominican town of Boca Chica after which he was extradited to Italy and landed in Milan on Monday.
The channel was started earlier this year but is now no longer active, Galasso said, as Biart remains in custody.
Biart’s arrest marks a breakthrough for the international effort led by Interpol and multiple European police forces to bring down organized crime. Known as “Interpol Cooperation Against ‘Ndrangheta,’ the initiative launched last year is tasked with disrupting the mafia gang’s global network, which Interpol says is present “on every world continent.”
Another ‘Ndrangheta mafia member was arrested in Portugal on Monday, police said. Francesco Pelle, who had been on the run for 14 years, was found at a clinic in Lisbon where he was receiving COVID-19 treatment.
Pelle is accused of ordering the murder of the boss of a rival clan who survived the attack but whose wife died in the ambush.
The mafia group is currently facing one of Italy's biggest mob trials in the last three decades. During a pre-trial hearing for the landmark case it took more than three hours to read the names of the 350 defendants.
Expected to last at least a year, the case has brought charges on account of kidnappings, murders and international drug trafficking.
Italian authorities said that arrests like those of Biart and Pelle prove the mafia's activities not only threaten Italy but should concern the whole world.