Mafia boss Matteo Denaro, Italy’s most wanted man, arrested in Sicily

Italy’s most-wanted man, mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, was arrested Monday after three decades on the run.

He was apprehended in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, Italy’s Carabinieri police division said.

Messina Denaro, a convicted murderer who has eluded authorities 30 years, is thought to be the leader of the notorious Cosa Nostra organized crime group.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a statement the arrest was “a great victory for the state that shows it never gives up in the face of the mafia.”

Gen. Pasquale Angelosanto, who leads the Carabinieri’s special operations squad, said Messina Denaro was arrested at a private clinic in Palermo where he was being treated for an unspecified medical issue.

A picture released by police early Monday showed Messina Denaro in a police car — visibly older than in his 1990s mugshots — alongside two officers.

Matteo Messina Denaro after his arrest on Monday. He is wanted for alleged crimes stretching back to the 1990s.
Matteo Messina Denaro after his arrest on Monday. He is wanted for alleged crimes stretching back to the 1990s.Ufficio Stampa Comando Generale Carabinieri

Police warned in September last year that despite his low profile, Messina Denaro could still issue commands to organized crime groups around the western Sicilian city of Trapani.

He was sentenced to life in prison — at a trial he did not attend — for his part in the murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992.

He faces a further life sentence for involvement in bomb attacks in Rome, Florence and and Milan in 1993.

The arrest marks the latest in a string of high-profile captures of mafia bosses.

Last year Rocco Morabito, then the second most-wanted fugitive in Italy and a leader in the powerful ‘Ndrangheta mafia group, was arrested in Brazil after 28 years on the run and extradited to Rome.

In 2006, police arrested Cosa Nostra boss Bernardo Provenzano, who police named as the “Capo di Capi,” or chief of chiefs, after a 43-year manhunt.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed.

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