After thirty years on the run, Italy’s most wanted Mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, currently a cancer patient, was arrested in a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily while undergoing chemotherapy under a false identity. He was taken into custody by the Carabinieri at around 10:00 am local time and transferred to an undisclosed location.
A video of Messina Denaro’s arrest that has been circulating online appears to show people praising the Italian police as he is taken away.
Messina Denaro was accused of being the godfather of the Italian Cosa Nostra Mafia. He was convicted and sentenced to life in absentia in 2002 for several murders. In addition to the kidnapping, torture, and murder of an eleven-year-old boy, the son of a mafioso turned state witness, he was convicted for the 1992 killings of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
He was also convicted of the 1993 bombings of Milan, Florence, and Rome, as well as other crimes. Messina Denaro purportedly once said he could “fill a cemetery” with the bodies of his victims.
BREAKING 🇮🇹 : Italian police hold a news conference after the capture of the country’s No. 1 fugitive, convicted Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro#Italy's Palermo Prosecutor: Messina Denaro has never been the sole leader of Cosa Nostra pic.twitter.com/ICkPAKr8en
— Zaid Ahmd (@realzaidzayn) January 16, 2023
Managing the Cosa Nostra criminal organization
The Mafia boss managed a wide range of illicit activities for the powerful Cosa Nostra criminal organization, including racketeering, illegal waste dumping, money laundering, and drug trafficking. According to sources, he was the protégé of the Corleone family patriarch, Totò Riina, who was caught in 1993 after being on the run for twenty-three years.
Messina Denaro’s community refers to him as “Diabolik” after an unstoppable thief from a comic book series and “U Siccu,” meaning ‘The Skinny One.’
There is speculation that he is the final “secret keeper” for Cosa Nostra. Prosecutors and informers alike believe he possesses knowledge of everything there is to know about the Mafia’s most notorious crimes, such as the bombings that murdered Magistrates Falcone and Borsellino.
Even though Messina Denaro had been on the run since 1993, there are rumors that he was the one giving orders from an unspecified location where he was hiding from law enforcement.
The arrest of Denaro’s sister
By keeping tabs on his closest relations and associates, Italian authorities came close to his whereabouts numerous times over the years. As a result, several of his associates, including his sister Patrizia, were arrested in 2013. Moreover, the police have seized valuable businesses associated with Messina Denaro, further isolating him.
However, in the decades after Messina Denaro’s disappearance, there were very few photographs of him, so the police have had to depend on digital composites to determine what he looks like today. A recording of his voice did not appear until 2021.
In their attempts to locate Messina Denaro over the years, a British Formula 1 fan from Liverpool was mistaken for the Italian mafia boss and held at gunpoint in a Netherlands restaurant in September 2021.
The news that he has finally been captured and is currently in custody, has had all eyes in Italy glued to the screens since Monday morning.