After 30 years on the run, Italy’s most-wanted mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, has been arrested in Sicily.
Messina Denaro, the alleged boss of the notorious Cosa Nostra mafia, was detained Monday at a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily’s capital, the BBC reported.
He was captured when he was receiving treatment and taken to a secret location by the Italian law enforcement agency, Carabinieri, according to Italian media. There were reportedly more than 100 members of the armed forces involved in the arrest.
In 1992, Messina Denaro was tried and sentenced to life in jail in absentia for numerous murders. He is allegedly responsible for the killing of two anti-mafia prosecutors in 1992, the deadly 1993 bomb attacks in Rome, Florence, and Milan, and the kidnapping, torture and killing of the 11-year-old son of a mafioso turned state witness.
The alleged mafia boss is believed by many informers and prosecutors to have all the information of those involved in several high-profile mafia crimes, including the 1992 bomb attacks that killed the prosecutors.
Messina Denaro was also allegedly responsible for racketeering, illegal waste dumping, money-laundering, and drug-trafficking for the Cosa Nostra organized crime syndicate. He was reportedly the protege of the head of the Corleone clan, Totò Riina, who was arrested in 1993 after 23 years on the run.
Despite being a fugitive for 30 years, Messina Denaro was suspected of continuing to issue orders to his subordinates from various secret locations.
Italian investigators came close to capturing Messina Denaro over the decades by monitoring those closest to him, resulting in the 2013 arrest of his sister and several other of his associates.
He became increasingly isolated as police seized valuable businesses linked to him. However, there were few photos of him and police had to rely on digital composites to reconstruct his appearance in the decades since he went on the run. It wasn’t until 2021 that a recording of his voice was released.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni thanked the armed forces for their work in detaining the “most important member of the mafia criminal group,” calling it “a great victory for the state.”