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CRIME

Mafioso on the run caught after posting Italian cooking videos

A mafia fugitive was caught in the Caribbean after appearing on YouTube cooking videos in which he hid his face but inadvertently showed his tattoos, Italian police said on Monday.

Mafioso on the run caught after posting Italian cooking videos
Police officers on duty at a high-profile mafia trial in January 2021. Photo by Gianluca CHININEA / AFP

Marc Feren Claude Biart, 53, led a quiet life in Boca Chica, in the Dominican Republic, with the local Italian expat community considering him a “foreigner”, police said in a statement.

He was betrayed by a YouTube channel in which he showed off his Italian cooking skills. The videos never showed his face, but the tattoos on his body gave him away, they said.

Biart had been on the run since 2014, when Italian prosecutors ordered his arrest for trafficking in cocaine in the Netherlands on behalf of the Cacciola clan of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia.

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Based in Calabria, the region that forms the tip of Italy’s boot, the ‘Ndrangheta is considered one of the world’s most powerful crime syndicates due to its control of most of the cocaine entering Europe.

It has extended its reach across all parts of the world, and it has long surpassed Sicily’s Cosa Nostra as Italy’s biggest mafia organisation.

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CRIME

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.

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