Italy’s most wanted mobster had been on the run for thirty years. Sicilian Matteo Messina Denaro has been arrested in Palermo, Sicily, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini announced on Monday. Matteo Messina Denaro, 60, is considered the successor of the great historic leaders of Cosa Nostra, Toto Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, who died in prison in 2016 and 2017.
“After 30 years on the run, superboss Matteo Messina Denaro has been arrested. It is with great emotion that I thank the women and men of the State who have never given up, confirming the rule that sooner or later even the greatest criminals on the run are arrested”, reacted on WhatsApp Matteo Salvini . “It’s a beautiful day for Italy and serves as a warning to the mafia: the institutions and our heroes in uniform never give up,” he concluded.
A strategy that took 20 years to bear fruit
“Today, January 16, the carabinieri (…) arrested the fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro inside a health structure in Palermo where he had gone to follow clinical therapies”, specified the general of the carabinieri. Pasquale Angelosanto at the AGI agency. On the Interior Ministry’s list of the six most wanted criminals in Italy, Matteo Messina Denaro, born in April 1962 near Trapani, Sicily, ranks first.
A former Cosa Nostra trigger, he had been sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for murder. But the only known photo of him dates back to the early 1990s. For many years hundreds of police and carabinieri had been involved in the hunt for Italy’s most famous fugitive. Since the 2000s, the Italian police have multiplied the arrests and seizures of property in his entourage, in a strategy of isolation which took nearly 20 years to bear fruit, so important was his support network.