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Capture of ‘last godfather’ after 30-year hunt could end ‘mafia myth’

It took 30 years for Matteo Messina Denaro, mafia boss, to be captured today.

One of the most wanted fugitives in Italy was “the last godfather”. His bloody past was not a factor in his arrest. He was arrested in Palermo on January 1, Sicily. However, more than 100 members were said to have been involved in the operation.

Messina Denaro was undergoing treatment for cancer at Palermo’s La Maddalena hospital. The police intervened to detain him. At the time, he was wearing a watch that cost EUR35,000 (PS31,000).

The 60-year-old convict killer was taken in a black van and locals cheered.


After 23 years of being on the run, his arrest comes 30 years after the search for Salvatore “the beast” Riina. Riina, who was reported to have mentored Messina denaro after her death in 2017.

Experts in organized crime doubt the strength and power of the mafia.

One believes there are no “big chiefs” left to replace Messina Denaro and Riina.

More information about Italy

“He represented all the secrets”

Films like The Godfather have made mafia organizations like Sicily’s Cosa Nostra famous.

However, the competition between gangs has made it difficult for clans operating out of Italy’s traditional mafia heartlands.

Cosa Nostra still controls Sicilian territory, and has the ability to penetrate the wider economy. However, it is being supplanted in the drug trade by the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta.

Professor of Criminalology at Oxford University Federico Varese said that Messina Denaro, a native of western Sicily, was arrested in Palermo, the capital of the island. This speaks volumes about the way Cosa Nostra works.

He said that mafias were not really global. “They are rooted in their territories and fugitives who want some control over the organization and role in it keep around the area where they operate.

Anna Sergi, a specialist in organised crime at Essex University thinks Messina denaro may be the last of his kind.

“Messina denaro was the last Godfather. He represented all secrets of Cosa Nostra. She said that it was the end of a myth, and the organization will have to deal with this.”

Ms Sergi stated that it wasn’t clear who would replace Messina denaro in a mafia with more factionalised members.

Ms. Sergi stated that Cosa Nostra needs to be given directives if it wants to rebuild its leadership. However, there aren’t any big chiefs anymore.

She said that she expected the group to attempt to rebuild relationships with clans in the United States.

Messina Denaro’s bloody history

No matter what the future holds Messina Denaro’s violent past will remain a matter for record.

He is also known as “Diabolik”, after a comic book thief and was born in Castelvetrano in Sicily in April 1962. His father Francesco, better known as Don Ciccio was the head the Sicilian Cosa Nostra Mafia in Trapani.

From a young age, he was involved in the mafia lifestyle. He was allegedly trained to use a gun when he was 14 years old and then he allegedly killed his first victim at 18 years of age.

However, Messina Denaro has been convicted of murder. He was finally convicted in spite of being on the run for many years.

These include the 1992 murder of anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, and Paolo Borsellino. The deadly 1993 bombings in Milan, Florence, and Rome were also attributed to them. Also, the kidnapping and torture of the 11-year old son of a mafioso and former state witness was involved.

It is widely believed that Messina Denaro boasted of his violent deeds. It is said that he once said, “I filled a cemetery all by myself.”

He was sentenced in 2002 to a life sentence for his involvement with the 1993 bombings.

Image Messina denaro was in a private hospital when he was arrested

How a crime boss vanished and evaded capture

After Salvatore Riina’s arrest in 1993, Messina denaro vanished that summer while she was on holiday in Tuscany.

The mafia boss enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle during his years of running from one place to another. According to the Washington Post, he entertained many girlfriends and played video games.

He was still active enough to be a slippery fugitive for many decades, as his fellow mobsters alerted him to any police raids and moved him from one hideout to the next.

With a strict code – known as “omerta”, which is followed by his supporters, no one would divulge his whereabouts.

The police had to deal with many close calls and false dawns. A Formula One lover from Liverpool was detained by Dutch police in 2021. Officers had mistaken him for Messina Denaro.

Even featured in Netflix’s documentary series World’s Most Wanted. He was arrested on Monday.

After confirming his illness, he was taken to the Palermo Clinic for treatment. He was thus removed from his position as the mafia’s last “secret keeper”.


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