From heroin dealers to a mafia fugitive – criminals caught red-handed on Google Maps

THE all-seeing eyes of Google's Street View cameras have captured countless bizarre moments down the years.

Strapped to fleets of roaming vehicles, they snap a 360-degree view of whatever's nearby as part of the search giant's bid to map the Earth's roads.

Recently, police caught an Italian mafia henchman after spotting the fugitive in Street View – the latest in an astonishing list of crimes solved by the service.

Secret drug farms and even the daylight mugging of a 14-year-old boy have come to light thanks to the tool.

Here are some of the most staggering examples of crimes solved by Google Maps.

1. Mafia murderer

Police recently caught an Italian mafia henchman after spotting the fugitive on Google Maps.

According to the Telegraph, Gioacchino Gammino was convicted of murder and then escaped from prison 20 years ago before ending up in Spain.

He thought he'd escaped the clutches of detectives after nearly two decades on the run – but eagle-eyed cops were able to track him down.

Gammino, 60, was living the quiet life in Spain, where he had set up a fruit and vegetable shop under a false name, the Telegraph reports.

However, detectives were hot on the trail and managed to confirm his whereabouts using images on Google Maps.

A snap of the criminal available on the tool's Street View feature showed him outside a grocery shop in the town of Galapagar north of Madrid.

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The store was named El Huerto de Manu – Manu’s Garden. Since moving to Spain, Gammino had changed his name to Manuel.

Gammino was arrested on December 17, 2021, but his capture only came to light in January.

He was baffled that he'd been found, reportedly telling his captors: "I haven’t even phoned my family for the last 10 years."

The crook will be taken back to Italy where he will serve a life sentence for murder.

2. Heroin dopes

And it's not just the cannabis trade that Google Earth has caught out.

In 2010, three brazen heroin dealers were caught slinging dope on a street corner in Brooklyn, New York, when a Google Street View car rolled by.

Shaundell Dade, Jamel Pringle and Jonathan Paulino were all snapped in front of a well-known dealing site.

One of the angles even shows the blokes yelling at the mapping car.

They were rounded up along with four others in an undercover NYPD sting operation shortly after.

3. Daylight robbery

Even criminals who commit their crimes indoors have been caught out by the patrolling Street View cars.

In 2011, a woman's home was broken into by two armed robbers who held her at gunpoint as they ransacked her house in Oklahoma City.

The victim, who was so traumatised that she didn't want to reveal her identity, said the ordeal lasted over an hour and she thought she was going to die.

She was devastated when an initial police investigation didn't turn up any forensic evidence or other leads.

Then in a remarkable twist in 2014, a friend of hers looked up the victim's house on Google Street View and there outside the house were two men matching the robber's description.

Cops immediately launched an appeal for information in the otherwise stone-cold case.

4. Hidden cannabis farm

Underwater cars aren't the only thing you can spot with a satellite view of the ground.

You might not associate Switzerland, famed for its snow-capped mountains and Alpine skiing, with huge cannabis farms.

But that's exactly what Swiss drug cops found hiding in the middle of a field of corn in 2009.

The huge weed plantation, which was spotted on Google Earth, led to 16 people being arrested and over a ton of marijuana being seized.

Prosecutors alleged that the site was being run by a criminal drug ring shifting multiple tons of narcotics worth millions.

But, as the then head of Zurich police's drugs unit Norbert Klossner admitted, finding the cannabis farm on Google Earth was "an interesting chance discovery".

5. Complete mugs

Although the Oklahoma resident had to wait years for her Google Earth justice, one famous robbery case was solved in a matter of months.

In 2008, a 14-year-old lad was cycling in Groningen in Holland when two men ambushed him, nicking his bike, phone and cash.

Cops initially couldn't help the victim — until he made an astonishing discovery six months later.

Looking at the spot of his own mugging on Street View, the lad found that the mapping car had captured the moments just before his stick-up.

He immediately called authorities who contacted Google, asking them to unblur the faces of the muggers.

The tech giant obliged and cops instantly recognised the attackers as two 24-year-old brothers who were well known to the Dutch justice system.

In other news, scientists are embarking on a mission to unravel the mystery behind dozens of grisly child mummies buried in an underground tomb in Sicily.

Police have caught an Italian mafia henchman who'd be on the run for 20 years after spotting the fugitive on Google Maps.

One of the best-preserved fossils ever found has confirmed that young dinosaurs burst from their shells just like baby birds.

And, an eagle-eyed Reddit user has spotted a $2billion flying stealth bomber on Google Maps.

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