Italy’s Mafia “Boss of All Bosses” Arrested After 30 Years on the Run

After searching for him for three decades, Italian police arrested on Monday the alleged “boss of all bosses” of the Sicilian mafia Matteo Messina Denaro who was sentenced nearly 20 years ago to life in prison for several brutal murders, including the killing of two famous prosecutors.

Matteo Messina DenaroItalian Mobster Matteo Messina Denaro. (Photo: Italian police, Wikimedia, License)Denaro, nicknamed “Diabolik” after an elusive cartoon character, was picked up by officers from a hospital in Palermo where he was admitted under a false name and treated for cancer, the Carabinieri said in a news release.

Officers raided the clinic with their faces covered. One of them approached the patient and asked what his name was. “My name is Matteo Messina Denaro,” he answered. His driver Giovanni Luppino was also arrested.

This is “a great victory for the state, showing that it does not give up in the face of the mafia”, said Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

The arrest of the country’s most wanted man came just a day after the Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto celebrated the 30th anniversary of the arrest of the late Salvatore “Totò” Riina, Denaro’s predecessor as the chief of the Cosa Nostra.

With Riina dying in prison in 2017 and the death of the crime boss Bernardo “The Tractor” Provenzano a year before, some experts saw Denaro becoming the “boss of all bosses,” although others claimed did not control all clans.

Denaro is responsible for numerous brutal murders, including the killing of anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992.

The BBC cited University of Essex criminology professor Anna Sergi as saying that Messina Denaro’s arrest was “symbolic not just because he was the boss of Cosa Nostra, but because he represents the last fugitive the Italian state really wanted to get its hands on.”

Investigators first found out that Denaro was sometimes using the name Andrea Bonafede, and then found him in the La Maddalena private clinic where he underwent surgery about a year ago and has been treated since.

“With the capture of the last super fugitive, the daily commitment in the fight against every mafia and every form of crime is renewed,” Italian Minister of Justice Carlo Nordio said.

Denaro was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his role in the bombings of 1993 in Milan, Florence and Rome, which claimed the lives of ten people and injured more than 100.