Authorities have tracked down and arrested 53-year-old Marc Feren Claude Biart, a former member of the Italian mob, in the Dominican Republic after years on the lamb because he showed his unmistakable tattoos in YouTube cooking videos.
Biart was a member of the Cacciola clan of the ’Ndrangheta, the Mafia-like organised crime syndicate centered out of Italy’s Calabria region and which is reportedly the country’s most powerful (ahead of the Sicily-based Cosa Nostra and the Campania-based Camorra). According to the Guardian, Biart eluded capture in 2014, when Italian prosecutors ordered his arrest over an alleged cocaine trafficking operation in the Netherlands.
The former ’Ndrangheta member somehow made it to the Dominican Republic and laid low, except for one glaring exception. Per Calabria News, police said that Biart and his spouse were considered “foreigners” by other Italian expats in the region, with Biart himself a “ghost” known only as Marc. But the duo’s joint YouTube channel dedicated to their mutual love of Italian cooking was apparently not exactly a secret. Authorities told the Guardian in a statement that while Biart was careful to leave his face out of any cooking vids, he wasn’t nearly as careful with the rest of his person — he apparently had distinctive tattoos that made it easy for police to identify him from YouTube clips. (What exactly those tattoos are wasn’t immediately apparent; a clip of Biart’s arrest posted by Calabria News only showed the mobster from behind.)
A number of other reputed ’Ndrangheta mobsters have gone down recently, according to the Guardian, including infamous former Pelle ‘ndrina clan member Francesco Pelle, who authorities nabbed in Portugal on Monday. Pelle managed 14 years on the run and was involved in the feud between the Pelle-Romeo and Nirta-Strangio gangs, which in 2007 culminated in the mass killing of six men outside an Italian restaurant in the western German city of Duisberg. The Guardian also reported that authorities have accused Pelle of a failed assassination plot against rival boss Giovanni Nirta during which Nirta’s spouse Maria Strangio was killed and four others injured.
It’s hardly new for ill-advised posts on social media sites to land criminals some direct engagement with the cops, be it a UK auto theft gang busted in 2019 for posting photos of stolen cars to Instagram or that Mexican drug lord who was arrested in late 2013, possibly in part because he tweeted photos of firearms, a tiger seemingly kept as a pet, and his private jet.
Police have also regularly used social media to crack down on protesters in the U.S., and hundreds of departments signed contracts with shady face-recognition firms like Clearview AI, which uses scraped online posts as fuel for a massive biometrics database that could assist with mass surveillance. Just another reason to be careful about what you upload to the internet, even if you’re not an ’Ndrangheta trying to evade Italian cops.