The Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, confirmed on Monday the arrest of the considered top boss of Cosa Nostra, the criminal organization that originated in southern Italy, particularly in Sicily, fulfilling his campaign promise that he would fight against the organized mafia.
Matteo Messina Denaro was Italy’s most wanted criminal and had been on the run for more than 30 years.
Through futility or complicity, none of the previous prime ministers who ruled the country in the last three decades had been able to arrest him, despite their rhetoric that they would.
“This is a great victory for the state, which shows that it does not surrender to the mafia,” Meloni said after Messina’s arrest was made public at a private health clinic in Palermo, the Sicilian capital, where he went for medical treatment.
According to police sources, he had been receiving treatment for colon cancer for a year under an assumed name.
Meloni highlighted that the arrest came a day after the anniversary of the arrest 30 years ago of Totò Riina, the former boss of organized crime and leader of the Corleone clan, and thanked “the police forces and, in particular, the Carabinieri, to the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor’s Office and the Palermo Prosecutor’s Office for the capture of the greatest exponent of mafia crime.”
“The Government assures that the fight against mafia crime will continue without truce, as demonstrated by the fact that the first measure of this Executive – the defense of life imprisonment without benefits – referred precisely to this matter,” she completed.
The capture of the mobster, with several life sentences for the Cosa Nostra attacks in 1993 and numerous homicides over the years, comes after an endorsement of support from the new right-wing government for the investigations carried out by prosecutors in Palermo Maurizio de Lucia and Paolo Guido.
WHO IS MATEO MESSINA DENARO
The “capo” of the Italian mafia, Messina Denaro, is now 60 years old and is nicknamed “El Diablo”.
He has been on the run since the 1990s, when he coordinated a series of 1993 bombings in Florence, Rome and Milan that killed 10 people.
He is also considered the mastermind behind the bombs that caused the death of the two anti-mafia magistrates in 1992, Paolo Borsellino and Giovani Falcone, his wife, Francesca Morvillo, and eight escort agents.
For several of these crimes he was tried and sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment, but the police had never been able to find his whereabouts, although it is clear that a person can only remain a fugitive for so long with the connivance of the political power on duty.
Messina took control of Cosa Nostra after the arrest of “Totó” Riina and the other mafia boss, Bernardo Provenzano, so it is expected that after his arrest, another leader will take his place. Still, it’s a lethal blow to the Sicilian mafia.
With information from La Derecha Diario