Matteo Messina Denaro, the most sought mafia boss in Italy, was apprehended today in his native Sicily after 30 years on the run.
Messina Denaro was seized by Italian authorities at a private hospital in Palermo, Sicily, where he had sought treatment for an undisclosed medical problem.
The police quickly transported Messina Denaro, now 60 years old, to a secret location after his detention.
Denaro has been given a life sentence for his role in the murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992.
In addition, he faces a life sentence for his role in the bombings that murdered ten people in Florence, Rome, and Milan the following year.
After 30 years on the run, Matteo Denaro is pictured in a car with Italian Carabinieri officers shortly after his capture at a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily.
The Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, lauded the arrest as “a great victory for the state, which demonstrates that it never gives up against the mafia.”
The mafia boss, who went into hiding decades ago, was photographed following his arrest wearing sunglasses and a woolly hat while sitting in the back of a car surrounded by Italian paramilitary police personnel.
Even when on the run, Messina Denaro, whose power base was in western Sicily, was considered the most powerful Cosa Nostra leader in Sicily.
Despite his long absence, police reported in September 2022 that Messina Denaro was still able to issue orders regarding the operation of the mafia in the western Sicilian city of Trapani, his regional stronghold.
Prosecutors accuse Messina Denaro, a native of the small hamlet of Castelvetrano near Trapani, of being alone or jointly responsible for multiple additional deaths in the 1990s.
Denaro had not been seen in public since the early 1990s, but a fresh e-fit was constructed with the assistance of another informant in 2014.
Matteo Messina Denaro, the most sought mafia boss in Italy, was apprehended in his native Sicily after 30 years on the run. On the right is a computer-generated image provided by the Italian Police, and on the left is a photograph of Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro.
A judge judged him guilty in his absence in 1993 for his role in the bombings in Rome, Florence, and Milan that resulted in the deaths of ten people.
Prosecutors assert that in 1993 he participated in the kidnapping of Giuseppe Di Matteo, a 12-year-old boy, in an attempt to prevent his father from testifying against the mafia.
Two years were spent holding the youngster captive before he was strangled and his body was destroyed in acid.
Denaro also recruited a five-year-old child to pass him and other mafia leaders private scribbled messages.
Denaro utilized the young daughter of mafia informant Attilio Fogazza to distribute the notes.
Fogazza, who is now charged with murder, stated in 2016 that Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Scimonelli, Denaro’s second-in-command, solicited his daughter to deliver the messages.
The right-hand man had taken his daughter out for ice cream and placed the messages in her jacket and bag before taking her with him.
Fogazza’s daughter and the rest of his family have been residing in a secret location under police protection as he works with prosecutors to bring down the ‘boss of bosses’ in the Italian mafia.
Fogazza managed a vehicle dealership in south-western Sicily, and after being jailed for the 2009 murder of Salvatore Lombardo, who was slain after stealing a van from Scimonelli, he agreed to cooperate with Palermo investigators.
“One day, my daughter told me that “Uncle Mimmo” had taken her out for gelato and placed the messages inside her jacket and backpack,” Fogazza told Palermo prosecutors, according to media reports.
This is breaking news, and there will be more to come…