Italy’s most wanted gangster, Sicilian Matteo Messina Denaro, who has been on the run for 30 years, has been arrested in Palermo, Sicily, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Monday.
Matteo Messina Denaro, 60, is considered the successor to the great historical leaders of Cosa Nostra, Toto Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, who died in prison in 2016 and 2017.
“After 30 years on the run, super boss Matteo Messina Denaro has been arrested. It is with great emotion that I thank the men and women of the state who never gave up and who confirm the rule that sooner or later even the biggest criminals are arrested while trying to escape,” Mr Salvini reacted on Whatsapp.
“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,” Mr Salvini concluded.
“Today, January 16, the Carabinieri (…) arrested the fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro in a healthcare facility in Palermo, where he had undergone clinical therapies,” specified the General of the Carabinieri Pasquale Angelosanto to the AGI agency.
Matteo Messina Denaro, born in April 1962 near Trapani in Sicily, tops the Interior Ministry’s list of the six most wanted criminals in Italy.
A former Cosa Nostra trigger, he had been sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia for murder. However, the only known photo of him dates from the early 1990s.
For many years, hundreds of police officers and carabinieri have been involved in the hunt for Italy’s most notorious fugitive.
Since the 2000s, Italian police have multiplied arrests and property confiscations in his wake in a strategy of isolation that took almost 20 years to bear fruit, such was his support network.