Italy arrests Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro after 30 years in hiding

Palermo (caasimada Online) – Italian authorities apprehended Matteo Messina Denaro, one of the nation’s most sought-after organized crime figures, at a private hospital in Palermo, Sicily on Monday.

Widely known by the monikers “Diabolik” and “U Siccu,” Denaro has been evading capture since 1993 when he was convicted in absentia for his role in the 1992 assassinations of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

These heinous acts sent shockwaves throughout Italy and prompted a concerted effort to combat the Sicilian mafia, also called Cosa Nostra.

At the time of his arrest, Denaro, now 60 years of age, was receiving medical treatment for cancer under a false identity at Palermo’s “La Maddalena” hospital.

He was escorted from the facility by two uniformed carabinieri and transferred to a waiting black minivan.

A second individual, who had driven Denaro to the hospital, was also taken into custody on suspicion of harboring a fugitive.

Magistrate Paolo Guido, who oversaw investigations into Denaro’s activities, emphasized the importance of dismantling the crime boss’s network of protectors in achieving this momentous arrest.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni made a trip to Sicily to commend the police officials involved, stating, “While this is not the end of the war or the defeat of organized crime, it is a crucial battle won and a significant blow to the mafia.”

Hailing from the town of Castelvetrano near Trapani in western Sicily, Denaro is the son of a prominent organized crime figure. Before going into hiding, he was known for his opulent lifestyle, replete with luxury automobiles and meticulously tailored suits.

He is currently facing a life sentence for his involvement in bomb attacks in Florence, Milan, and Rome that claimed the lives of ten individuals in 1993. He is also accused of having a hand in several other murders during the 1990s.

The arrest of Denaro coincides almost precisely with the 30th anniversary of the capture of Salvatore “Toto” Riina, the Sicilian mafia’s preeminent leader of the 20th century. Riina passed away in prison in 2017, never having broken his vow of silence.

Despite the magnitude of this recent arrest, experts contend that Cosa Nostra has been surpassed by the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia, as the most powerful organized crime group in Italy.

Federico Varese, Professor of Criminology at Oxford University, noted, “The Sicilian mafia is not as formidable as it once was, particularly since the 1990s, as they have been unable to infiltrate the drug trade and are, therefore, playing second fiddle to the ‘Ndrangheta in that regard.”

Source: Agencies