WORLD NEWS

Italy arrests No. 1 fugitive Mafia boss, 30 years on the run

Jan 16, 2023, 6:08 AM
In this Italian Carabinieri handout photo made available on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, top Mafia boss M...
In this Italian Carabinieri handout photo made available on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, top Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, right, is seen in a car with Italian Carabinieri officers soon after his arrest at a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily, after 30 years on the run, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. (Carabinieri)
(Carabinieri)

ROME (AP) — Italy’s No. 1 fugitive, convicted Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, was captured on Monday at a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily, after three decades on the run, Italian paramilitary police said.

Messina Denaro was captured at the clinic where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed medical condition, said Carabinieri Gen. Pasquale Angelosanto, who heads the police force’s special operations squad.

A pair of Carabinieri officers, each holding an arm, walked him down the front steps of the upscale clinic and led him to a waiting black van on a gray morning. Messina Denaro was wearing a brown leather jacket trimmed in shearling and a matching white-and-brown skull cap and his trademark tinted glasses. His face looked wan and he looked straight ahead. He was taken to a secret location by police immediately after the arrest, Italian state television reported.

A young man when he went into hiding, he is now 60. Messina Denaro, who had a power base in the port city of Trapani, in western Sicily, was considered Sicily’s Cosa Nostra top boss even while a fugitive.

He was the last of three longtime fugitive top-level Mafia bosses who had for decades eluded capture, and hundreds of police officers over the years had been tasked with tracking him down.

Messina Denaro, who was tried in absentia and convicted of dozens of murders, faces multiple life sentences.

He is set to be imprisoned for two bombings in Sicily in 1992 that murdered top anti-Mafia prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, Falcone’s wife and several of their bodyguards. Among other grisly crimes he was convicted of is the murder of a Mafia turncoat’s young son, who was abducted and strangled before his body was dissolved in a vat of acid.

The arrest Monday came 30 years and a day after the Jan. 15, 1993, capture of convicted “boss of bosses” Salvatore “Toto” Riina, in a Palermo apartment after 23 years on the run. Messina Denaro went into hiding in summer of that same year, as the Italian state stiffened its crackdown on the Sicilian crime syndicate following the murders of Falcone and Borsellino.

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni tweeted that Messina Denaro’s capture is a “great victory of the state, which shows that it doesn’t surrender in the face of the Mafia.”

Italy’s Mafia boss who set the record for the longest time on the lam was Bernardo Provenzano, captured in a farmhouse near Corleone, Sicily, in 2006 after 38 years as a fugitive. Once Provenzano was in police hands, the hunt focused on Messina Denaro, but despite numerous reported sightings of the boss, he managed to elude arrest, until Monday.

That all three top bosses were ultimately arrested in the heart of Sicily while they conducted decades of a clandestine life won’t surprise Italy’s police and prosecutors. Law enforcement have long said that such bosses rely on contacts and confidentiality of fellow mobsters and complicit family members to move the fugitives from hideout to hideout, supply basic needs, like food and clean clothing and communication, and a code of silence known as “omerta’.”

Riina and Provenzano lived out the last years of their life in the strictest of Italian prison conditions reserved for unrepentant organized crime bosses and refused to cooperate with investigators.

Messina Denaro was believed to have enjoyed a more comfortable lifestyle in his decades hiding from police, leaving some to speculate whether he might agree to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for more lenient prison conditions.

During his years on the run, he had a series of lovers and passed time by playing video games, according to Italian media reports.

One of his girlfriends was arrested and convicted of having hidden him for a time while he was a fugitive. But while he had a weakness for women, Messina Denaro could be cruel, strangling a woman while she was pregnant, according to Italian media.

Right after he went into hiding, Messina Denaro sent a letter to his then girlfriend, saying, “You’ll hear talk about me, they will paint me like the devil, but it’s all falsehoods,” ANSA quoted the letter as saying.

Wary of being tracked down by cellphone use, Mafia bosses frequently resort to handwritten notes known as “pizzini.” When Provenzano was nabbed in his rustic, almost primitive, hideaway in the countryside, police found a stash of such notes.

With the crackdown that began in the 1990s against Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, the island’s mafiosi started losing their dominance in Italy compared to other organized crime syndicates.

While the Sicilian Mafia was significantly weakened by a small army of turncoats, on the mainland, the ‘ndrangheta syndicate, based in the “toe” of the Italian peninsula, steadily eclipsed Cosa Nostra in reach and influence. Unlike Sicily’s crime syndicates, the ‘ndrangheta draws its footsoldiers based on family ties, leaving it less vulnerable to turncoats. The ’ndrangheta is now one of the world’s most powerful cocaine traffickers.

But the Sicilian Mafia still runs drug trafficking operations. Other lucrative illicit businesses include infiltration of public works contracts and extortion of small business owners who are threatened if they don’t regularly pay “protection money.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

World News

An Egyptian archeologist speaks at a recently discovered tomb dated to the Old Kingdom, 2700–2200...
MOHAMED WAGDY

Egypt unveils tombs and sarcophagus in new excavation

Egypt on Thursday unveiled dozens of new archaeological discoveries, including two ancient tombs, at a Pharaonic necropolis just outside of the capital Cairo.
7 days ago
A Yanomami youth carries a toddler on his shoulders at the Saude Indigenous House, a center respons...
Eleoneore Hughes and Edmar Barros, Associated Press

Why Brazil’s Yanomami are being decimated by disease, mining

Severe malnutrition and disease, particularly malaria, are decimating the Yanomami population in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, and on Jan. 20 the federal government declared a public health emergency.
7 days ago
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, tours a neighborhood in Kharkiv ...
Hanna Arhirova, Associated Press

Russian attacks on Ukraine reported; tank training to start

Ukrainian officials say Russia has launched a new wave of missile and self-exploding drone attacks on the country.
8 days ago
woman leans off skyscraper for video content...
Larry D. Curtis

Sundance: ‘Fantastic Machine’ entertains while examining relationship between humans and camera

While the Utah's political leaders grapple with laws to combat the dangers of social media, Utah's Sundance Film Festival premiered "Fantastic Machine," turning the camera lens not only the camera but what it has meant to humans — spoiler: it has drastically changed us.
9 days ago
U.S. M1/A1 Abrams tanks...
TARA COPP and LOLITA BALDOR Associated Press

Why the US flipped on sending tanks to Ukraine

For months, U.S. officials balked at sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, insisting they were too complicated and too hard to maintain and repair.
9 days ago
This diagram made available by NASA shows the estimated trajectory of asteroid 2023 BU, in red, aff...
Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer

Asteroid coming exceedingly close to Earth, but will miss

An asteroid the size of a delivery truck will whip past Earth on Thursday night, one of the closest encounters ever recorded.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Italy arrests No. 1 fugitive Mafia boss, 30 years on the run