Italian Money Launderer Tracked Down with FacebookBy: Heather Campobello - April 2, 2012
Italian officials used Facebook to track down a fugitive banker hiding out in Thailand. Roberto Palazzolo was implicated in the “Pizza Connection” drug and money laundering trial and received a prison sentence that was almost a decade long.
The Pizza Connection Trial was one of the longest criminal jury trials on record in the district of Manhattan. It took place between October 24, 1985 and March 2, 1987.
The “Pizza Connection” investigation uncovered a $1.6 billion heroin and cocaine smuggling operation that used New York pizzerias as fronts from 1975 to 1984. The lead store in the scheme was “Al Dentes” in Forest Hills, Queens which remains open today, albeit under new ownership.
Palazzolo denied that he laundered money for the Mafia and decided to relocate to South Africa, his legally adopted homeland where he lived under the name of Robert von Palace Kolbatschenko, but he was detained in Thailand after an extradition request from Italy was responded to.
Investigators were able to track his location by viewing messages between Palazzolo and his friends and family.
Palazzolo has hired a lawyer to fight the extradition request.
According to The Chiangrai Times the Royal Thai police are saying that such battles are futile and that the banker can legally be sent to Italy despite the fact that the two countries do not have an extradition treaty. Thai police have cancelled his Visa and continue to detain him on immigration charges.