Mafia fugitive arrested in Mexico - thanks to Facebook

Andrea Vogt
Giulio Perrone, 65, a convicted drug smuggler, was arrested with help from Facebook - AFP or licensors

One of Italy’s most wanted fugitives is behind bars after investigators used Facebook to hunt him down in Mexico.

Facebook pictures posted under the mafioso's alias - Saverio Garcia Galiero – show a happy man living large south of the border – beaming as he takes the sun at the beach or relaxing with his arm draped around a pretty companion.

But not all his “friends” liked his posts. Back in Naples, where he was born, detectives tasked with finding fugitives were studying his timeline to confirm his real identity: Giulio Perrone, 65, a convicted drug smuggler who had been running from the law for more than two decades. The picture they posted Saturday tells a different story.

“This arrest is part of a larger strategy being coordinated by the anti-crime division of the Italian police to capture mafia fugitives who have been taking refuge abroad for many years,” authorities said in a statement. 

The mafioso's mugshot, taken shortly after he was arrested - Credit: Italian police

Perrone was originally arrested in January 1993 along with his wife as he was transporting 16 kilograms of cocaine to the Naples-based Camorra crime syndicate. 

According to police, he collaborated with Mazzarella, Formicola, Polverino and Tolomelli clans and was one of the kingpins in a drug trafficking operation importing cocaine into Germany in the 1980s and 90s.  In 1998, he was officially pronounced a fugitive after a Naples court found him guilty of international drug trafficking and ordered him to serve a 22-year jail sentence.

Photograph of Perrone taken before he was tracked down by Italian police - Credit: Italian police

But by then he was long gone, having disappeared without a trace in 1994 while awaiting trial. Italian forensic police monitoring mobster family Facebook posts discovered he was using the alias Saverio Garcia Galiero. Galiero was his mother’s maiden name, which helped police trace him back to Italy.

He had been living the tropical port city of Tampico, in the north-easterly region of Tamaulipas, once the historic home of Mexico’s oil industry but today a violent  hotspot for contraband operations run by some of Mexico’s most vicious drug cartels. Police said Mr. Perrone had remarried and has Mexican children. 

Agents from the Mexican Agencia De Investigacion Criminal and Mexico City’s Interpol office detained him near his home, then put him on a direct flight from Mexico City to Rome. Naples police met him at the Fiumicino airport Saturday and escorted him to jail. 

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