PALERMO, ITALY — Italy’s most wanted mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, was arrested by armed police at a private hospital in Sicily on Monday.
Messina Denaro, nicknamed “Diabolik” and “‘U Siccu” (the skinny one), had been sentenced to life in prison for the 1992 murders of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. She sparked a crackdown on Cosa Nostra.
Messina Denaro, 60, was taken from Palermo’s “La Maddalena” hospital by two uniformed Carabinieri police and put into a waiting black minivan. He wore a brown fur-lined jacket, glasses, and a brown and white woolen hat.
According to judicial sources, he was being treated for cancer and underwent surgery last year, after which he received a series of appointments under a pseudonym.
Palermo Public Prosecutor Maurizio de Lucía said: “We have the lead in the investigation that has led us to today’s arrest.
Magistrate Paolo Guido, who was also in charge of investigating Messina de Narro, said dismantling the parental network was key to reaching the results of years of work.
Another man who took Messina Denaro to the hospital was arrested at the scene on suspicion of aiding the fugitive.
Images on social media showed a minivan carrying Messina Denaro being driven from a suburban hospital to a secret location as locals in balaclava clapped and shook hands with police. was
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni traveled to Sicily to congratulate the police chief after his arrest.
“We haven’t won the war, we haven’t beaten the mafia, but this fight is an important one to win and a big blow for organized crime,” she said.
Maria Falcone, sister of the murdered judge, echoed that sentiment.
“This proves that the mafia, despite its omnipotent delusions, is ultimately destined to lose in conflicts with democratic nations,” she said.
fast cars, flashy clothes
Messina Denaro hails from the town of Castelvetrano, near Trapani in western Sicily, and is the son of a mafia boss.
Police said last September that the mafia was able to issue orders related to how the mafia operates in the area around his regional stronghold of Trapani.
Before going into hiding, he was known for driving luxury cars and was known for his penchant for sophisticated suits and Rolex watches.
He faces life imprisonment for his role in the 1993 bomb attacks in Florence, Rome and Milan that killed 10 people, and is responsible alone or jointly for numerous other murders in the 1990s. has been accused by the public prosecutor of
In 1993, he helped organize the kidnapping of Giuseppe Di Matteo, a 12-year-old boy, in an attempt to dissuade his father from giving evidence against the Mafia. It was held captive for two years before it melted.
The arrest comes nearly 30 years after police arrested Salvatore “Toto” Riina, the most powerful boss of the Sicilian mafia of the 20th century. He eventually died in prison in 2017, never breaking the code of silence.
“It’s a special event of historical importance,” said Gian Carlo Caselli, who was the Palermo public prosecutor at the time of Lina’s arrest.
Despite the euphoria, Italy still faces a struggle to curb organized crime groups with far-reaching tentacles.
According to experts, Cosa Nostra is the most powerful organized crime group in Italy and has been taken over by the Calabrian Mafia ‘Ndrangheta.
“There is a sense that the Sicilian Mafia is not as strong as it used to be. Especially since the 90s, they have been unable to enter the drug market. That is why they are second only to ‘Ndrangheta’.” Oxford University Crime Professor of Science Federico Varese said: