Italy’s most wanted mafia boss arrested after 30 years on the run

ITALIAN police have arrested one of the bosses of the Cosa Nostra Mafia in Sicily and Italy’s most wanted man Matteo Messina Denaro.

Denaro has been on the run since 1993, making him the country’s longest-hiding fugitive.

He was arrested by armed police on Monday, January 16, at the “La Maddalena” hospital in Sicily, where he was being treated for cancer under a false name and bundled into a waiting black minivan. He was wearing a brown fur-lined jacket, glasses and a brown and white woolly hat.

A second man who had driven him to the hospital was arrested at the scene on suspicion of aiding a fugitive.

Denaro is thought to have ordered dozens of Mafia-related murders and was given 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.

His most recent life sentence came in 2020 for fatal bombings in Milan, Florence and Rome in the late 1990s, and for the murder and torture of the 11-year-old son of an enemy who gave evidence against the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni travelled to Sicily to congratulate police chiefs after the arrest.

“We have not won the war, we have not defeated the mafia but this battle was a key battle to win, and it is a heavy blow to organised crime,” she said.

Palermo prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia said the police had received intel which it followed through leading to Denaro’s arrest.

    Messina Denaro comes from the town of Castelvetrano near Trapani in western Sicily, and is the son of a mafia boss.

    He was notable for driving expensive cars and his taste for wearing finely tailored suits and Rolex watches before going into hiding.

    Images on social media showed locals applauding and shaking hands with police in balaclavas as the minivan carrying Messina Denaro was driven away from the suburban hospital to a secret location.

    Despite the euphoria, Italy still faces a struggle to rein in organised crime groups whose tentacles stretch far and wide.

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