Italy Arrests Fugitive Mafia Boss After 30 Years On The Run

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

Messina Denaro was captured on the clinic the place he was receiving therapy for an undisclosed medical situation, mentioned Carabinieri Gen. Pasquale Angelosanto, who heads the police pressure’s particular operations squad.

A pair of Carabinieri officers, every holding an arm, walked him down the entrance steps of the upscale clinic and led him to a ready black van on a grey morning. Messina Denaro was sporting a brown leather-based jacket trimmed in shearling and an identical white-and-brown cranium cap and his trademark tinted glasses. His face appeared wan and he appeared straight forward. He was taken to a secret location by police instantly after the arrest, Italian state tv reported.

A younger man when he went into hiding, he’s now 60. Messina Denaro, who had an influence base within the port metropolis of Trapani, in western Sicily, was thought of Sicily’s Cosa Nostra high boss even whereas a fugitive.

He was the final of three longtime fugitive top-level Mafia bosses who had for many years eluded seize, and a whole bunch of law enforcement officials over time had been tasked with monitoring him down.

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

He’s set to be imprisoned for 2 bombings in Sicily in 1992 that murdered high anti-Mafia prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, Falcone’s spouse and several other of their bodyguards. Amongst different grisly crimes he was convicted of is the homicide of a Mafia turncoat’s younger son, who was kidnapped and strangled earlier than his physique was dissolved in a vat of acid.

A composite image displaying a pc generated picture launched by the Italian Police, proper, and an image of Mafia high boss Matteo Messina Denaro.

talian Police, LaPresse through Related Press

The arrest Monday got here 30 years and a day after the Jan. 15, 1993, seize of convicted “boss of bosses” Salvatore “Toto” Riina, in a Palermo condominium after 23 years on the run. Messina Denaro went into hiding in summer season of that very same 12 months, because 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 seize 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 file for the longest time on the lam was Bernardo Provenzano, captured in a farmhouse close to Corleone, Sicily, in 2006 after 38 years as a fugitive. Once Provenzano was in police palms, the hunt centered on Messina Denaro, however regardless of quite a few reported sightings of the boss, he managed to elude arrest, till Monday.

That each one three high bosses had been in the end arrested within the coronary heart of Sicily whereas they performed many years of a clandestine life gained’t shock Italy’s police and prosecutors. Regulation enforcement have lengthy mentioned that such bosses depend on contacts and confidentiality of fellow mobsters and complicit members of the family to maneuver the fugitives from hideout to hideout, provide primary wants, like meals and clear clothes and communication, and a code of silence generally known as “omerta’.”

Riina and Provenzano lived out the final years of their life within the strictest of Italian jail circumstances reserved for unrepentant organized crime bosses and refused to cooperate with investigators.

Messina Denaro was believed to have loved a extra comfy life-style in his many years hiding from police, leaving some to invest whether or not he would possibly conform to cooperate with prosecutors in change for extra lenient jail circumstances.

Throughout his years on the run, he had a sequence of lovers and handed time by enjoying video video games, based on Italian media stories.

One of his girlfriends was arrested and convicted of getting hidden him for a time whereas he was a fugitive. However whereas he had a weak spot for girls, Messina Denaro might be merciless, strangling a lady whereas she was pregnant, based on Italian media.

Proper after he went into hiding, Messina Denaro despatched 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, nearly primitive, hideaway within the countryside, police discovered a stash of such notes.

With the crackdown that started within the Nineteen Nineties towards Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, the island’s mafiosi began shedding their dominance in Italy in comparison with different organized crime syndicates.

Whereas the Sicilian Mafia was considerably weakened by a small military of turncoats, on the mainland, the ’ndrangheta syndicate, primarily based within the “toe” of the Italian peninsula, steadily eclipsed Cosa Nostra in attain and affect. Not like Sicily’s crime syndicates, the ’ndrangheta attracts its footsoldiers primarily based on household ties, leaving it much less weak to turncoats. The ’ndrangheta is now one of many world’s strongest cocaine traffickers.

However the Sicilian Mafia nonetheless runs drug trafficking operations. Different profitable illicit companies embody infiltration of public works contracts and extortion of small enterprise house owners who’re threatened in the event that they don’t repeatedly pay “protection money.”