Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, Italy’s most wanted man, arrested in Sicily – Boston News, Weather, Sports

(CNN) — Matteo Messina Denaro, one of the bosses of Cosa Nostra mafia The man most wanted in Sicily and Italy was arrested by police while being treated at a private health clinic in Palermo, prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia said on Monday.

He has been on the run since 1993 and is considered by Europol to be one of the most wanted men in Europe, de Lucia told CNN.

“It is a victory for all the police forces who have worked together over these long years to bring the dangerous fugitive to justice,” Italy’s police chief Lamberto Giannini said in a statement, congratulating the Carabinieri – Italy’s military police – and Palermo prosecutors .

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tweeted: “A great victory for the state which shows that it does not give up in the face of the Mafia.”

Defense Minister Guido Crosetto called the arrest “a sign that a state is winning against the mafia”.

Speaking to prosecutors, Meloni said that while Italy had not yet won the “war” against the mafia, it was a “fundamental fight”.

“It’s a day to celebrate and tell our kids that the mafia can be defeated,” she said.

A life of crime

Messina Denaro is believed to have ordered dozens of Mafia-related murders and was sentenced to several life sentences in absentia for his many crimes, most notably in 1992 for his involvement in the separate murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

He received his last life sentence in 2020 for deadly bombings in Milan, Florence and Rome in the late 1990s and for murdering and torturing the 11-year-old son of an enemy who testified against the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.

A wanted man for nearly 30 years, he was the Cosa Notra’s longest-hidden fugitive.

Messina Denaro was taken into custody around 10am local time after a raid by more than 100 specialized anti-mafia Carabinieri agents in the early hours of the morning. The Maddalena Clinic where he was arrested is a private clinic known for plastic surgery and other elective surgeries. It is not known what treatment Messina Denaro received.

The Carabinieri’s press office told CNN on Monday that he was being held at a “secret location.”

In recent years, anti-mafia security forces have closed in on Messina Denaro’s circle, seizing around 3 billion euros ($3.25 billion) in assets from companions, relatives and associates believed to have taken his life Assist in hiding, and arrests made between 2009 and 2010.

Messina Denaro – known as Diabolik – is thought to be one of the heirs to Bernardo Provenzano, who was arrested in April 2006 while hiding in a farmhouse outside of Corleone, Sicily.

Crime was a family affair for Messina Denaro, who was born in Sicily on April 26, 1962 to a well-known mafia boss. Among those arrested in the 2009-2010 raid was his brother Salvatore Messina Denaro, who refused to testify about his whereabouts.

In 2013, his sister Patrizia Messina Denaro was sentenced to 14 years in prison for membership in the mafia, which she is still serving.

time in hiding

While in hiding, Messina Denaro maintained several romantic relationships, including with his fiancé Franca Alagna, with whom he had a daughter, Lorenza. Another of his high-profile liaisons was with an Austrian hotel worker, who boasted that the two had gone on holiday to Greece despite being on Europol’s Most Wanted List.

There have been numerous failed attempts to arrest him over the years.

In May 2011, police believed they were monitoring Messina Denaro at a farmhouse near his hometown of Castelvetrano, but failed to arrest him despite the involvement of hundreds of officers. His DNA was later found at the site.

Police embarrassment was compounded by the 2021 arrest of a Brit at a restaurant in The Hague after anti-mafia police misidentified him as Messina Denaro.

An alleged sighting of him in a car in September of that year led to a manhunt and hundreds of leads, prosecutors said.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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