Infamous Cosa Nostra Mafia Boss Messina Denaro Dies Of Cancer

Infamous Sicilian Mafia leader Matteo Messina Denaro, who spent 30 years evading capture and was sentenced to life imprisonment, died from cancer Monday, according to Italian magazine L’Internazionale.

Matteo Messina DenaroCosa Nostra boss Matteo Messina Denaro died at 61. (Photo: Arma dei Carabinieri, Wikimedia, License)The 61-year-old mobster was found guilty of numerous murders, including the strangeling of a 12-year-old child whose body was then dissolved in acid.

He had been fighting colon cancer and had been undergoing treatment for several years. He was apprehended in January 2023.

The health of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra boss deteriorated in recent weeks and he was moved in August from a maximum-security prison to L'Aquila Hospital, in Central Italy. On Friday he fell into an irreversible coma.

RaiNews said the autopsy was conducted on Tuesday, followed by the transfer of his coffin to his hometown of Castelvetrano, Sicily, with the utmost secrecy surrounding the route.

Messina Denaro was also allegedly involved in orchestrating the assassinations of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, both killed in two different bomb attacks in 1992.

Now, with his passing, questions arise about the future of the Sicilian Mafia.

"The greatest risk that has occurred since Messina Denaro's arrest, with the overemphasis in my opinion on him as the head of Cosa Nostra, is that one might think that with his arrest first, and now death, the Mafia is over. That is not the case. The Mafia has only changed, changed its skin. It is a more hidden mafia, more financial,” said former prosecutor of Palermo, Antonio Ingroia as reported by RaiNews.

It was Messina Denaro himself saying to Italian authorities in an interrogation of February 13, 2023: [...] “What do you think has changed? There is corruption outside, there is indecent corruption outside,” he said, adding that authorities have always focused on him but that they can’t even imagine the corruption outside of the Mafia.

Salvatore Borsellino, brother of the murdered prosecutor Paolo Borsellino, told RaiNews that Messina Denaro took his “terrible” secrets to his grave but that the Mafia has not been defeated.

“On the contrary, it is stronger than before. I am not talking about the one of the 1990s, the Cosa Nostra massacre, but about a much more dangerous mafia, which has crept into the economy, into administrations, which has made itself invisible and which, for this reason, is difficult to discover and is extremely more dangerous." he said.

I have no reason to rejoice. I only think that today a criminal died, but no one will give me back my brother or the truth about the massacre in which he lost his life,” he added.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Falcone and Borsellino played a pivotal role in the implementation of Italy's first witness protection law.

The legislation provides vital safeguards and support for witnesses who cooperate with authorities to bring down criminal networks and remains a powerful tool in the fight against the Mafia.

Falcone’s assassination, followed by the murder of fellow magistrate Paolo Borsellino two months later, led to the establishment of the Italian investigation body “Direzione Investigativa Anti-Mafia (DIA)” that mainly deals with the Mafia and organized crime in Italy.