The #mindset misogynist Andrew Tate may lack charm, a consistent accent, and access to his TikTok account, but he does seem to possess incredible comic timing. The 36-year-old was arrested by Romanian authorities Thursday evening, barely 24 hours after escalating his fight with teen activist Greta Thunberg, over the “enormous emissions” of his car collection, with a video.
In an impossibly on-the-nose twist, Tate was arrested on suspicion of involvement in human trafficking and organized crime. According to a press release from the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), four individuals — two British citizens and two Romanians — were detained as part of an investigation into an “organized crime group” that had lured at least six people to Ilfov County and pressured them to make porn. DIICOT alleged the suspects had used a “loverboy method” — meaning they seduced victims through promises of marriage, a relationship, or “the existence of genuine feelings of love,” and forced them into sexual acts through violence and coercive tactics like “intimidation, constant surveillance, control and invoking alleged debts.”
The release did not mention Tate by name, but his lawyer confirmed to Semafor that both Andrew and his brother Tristan had been detained. And Tate has been linked to the trafficking ring since at least April, when Romanian authorities raided his home and detained him for questioning for several hours. But the investigation seemed to have gone quiet until Thursday — just after Tate’s dick-measuring contest with Thunberg had gone viral.
In the immediate aftermath of the arrest, it seemed impossible that the two were unrelated. The Romanian outlet Gândul, which broke the story, reported that investigators were waiting for “the right moment to catch the Tate brothers, who were always out of the country.” DIICOT prosecutors mobilized law enforcement to initiate the arrest, the piece said, only after seeing the Tates were together in Romania from “social media.” Internet gumshoes quickly came to a conclusion: the smoking gun had come from Tate’s Thunberg video. Specifically, many claimed that it had come from a pair of pizza boxes, which Tate had used only to insist they would not be recycled, from a Romanian chain called Jerry’s.
The Twitter account Pop Base, which aggregates entertainment news, seemed to be the first to make the claim. But the pizza connection quickly spread across Twitter, and then to Thunberg herself, who tweeted: “this is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes.” The idea was so good, straight out of 30 Rock good, delicious even. Unfortunately, there was no evidence that the pizza boxes had been key to the investigation — neither Gândul nor the DIICOT release mentioned them.
But the idea was appealing enough to catch on, and eventually spread to media outlets. Some hedged that the theory had not been confirmed: Business Insider pegged it to Thunberg’s tweet; Semafor noted that Tate’s video “appeared to show him with a pizza from a Romanian restaurant.” The Independent’s headline read: “Romanian pizza box in response video to Greta Thunberg may have given away Andrew Tate’s location.”
Others were less circumspect. The New York Post reported that the video showed “two pies from Jerry’s Pizza — a local chain in Romania,” making it “all authorities needed to pinpoint the former kickboxer’s location and make the arrest.” And Jezebel ran a piece titled, “Andrew Tate Arrested for Human Trafficking in Romania After Pizza Box Gave Away His Location,” which claimed the box had tipped off the authorities outright.
The post has since been edited to hedge the claim, but it maintains that the boxes “reportedly tipped off” DIICOT, linking to Gândul’s original piece. In actuality though, that article states only that prosecutors saw posts of the brothers together in Romania, which suggests other clues may have been involved. For one, Tate’s brother Tristan is not featured in the Thunberg video. For another, Tate has posted about being in Romania several times prior to his teen feud — and in much more explicit ways:
We reached out to DIICOT for comment about whether the pizza boxes played into the arrest, and have not yet heard back. But the answer was buried at the end of a Reuters article: “The anti organised-crime unit representative said that it was not the case that Tate's arrest had been made as a result of the pizza boxes.” The bad news, in other words, is that PizzaTate is not real. The good news is that its rapid deterioration led to this thread.