Tuesday , July 27 2021

Suspected mafia fugitive arrested after police saw his YouTube cooking videos

Marc Feren Claude Biart, a 53-year-old suspected member of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia organization, arrived in Milan, Italy, on Monday following his arrest on March 24, according to a statement from Italy’s financial police.

Biart is Italian-Dutch and is accused of drug trafficking for the Cacciola clan of the ‘Ndrangheta between Italy and the Netherlands, said Italy’s national gendarmerie.

He had been living a quiet life in the tourist town of Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, not far from the country’s capital, Santo Domingo, said police.

In Boca Chica he was known simply as Marc, and was cautious in his movements, according to police. However, police say Biart posted videos cooking Italian recipes on YouTube alongside his wife.

While the videos never showed the man’s face, investigators say they were able to recognize Biart from his tattoos.

“The love for Italian cuisine allowed (police forces) to follow his traces on the web and social networks, while the love for tattoos (allowed police) to recognize the fugitive as that cook,” reads the statement.

Rome-born Biart was arrested by Interpol officers and taken to Milan by plane. Biart had previously lived in Costa Rica and moved to the Dominican Republic around five years ago, said police.

Biart arrived in Milan on Monday.

CNN has been unable to contact Biart’s lawyers.

His arrest is part of the Interpol Cooperation Against ‘Ndrangheta (I-CAN) project, which involves 10 countries around the world. The project is funded by Italy and led by Interpol.

The ‘Ndrangheta is present in at least 32 countries — 17 of which are in Europe, Prefect Vittorio Rizzi, deputy director general of public security and central director of the Italian Criminal Police, told CNN.

Inside Europe's most powerful mafia -- the 'NdranghetaInside Europe's most powerful mafia -- the 'Ndrangheta

Rizzi described Biart as one of ‘Ndrangheta’s “most dangerous fugitives.”

The ‘Ndrangheta hails from Calabria, the “toe” of southern Italy. Authorities say the criminal organization has used money laundering and drug trafficking to become Italy’s most powerful mafia group, controlling an estimated 80% of the cocaine entering Europe.

Following Biart’s arrest, Italy’s financial police emphasized the reach of the organization.

“This is an operational success that demonstrates once again that the ‘Ndrangheta is not a Calabrian pandemic nor an Italian one but that it represents a serious threat at an international level,” reads the statement.

In January more than 320 suspected members of the ‘Ndrangheta clan appeared in court on charges including extortion, drug trafficking and theft as part of one of the biggest mafia trials in Italy’s history.

CNN’s Antonia Mortensen contributed to this report.

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