Investigators consider a “federation” between ruling clans quite possible. But organized crime is undergoing structural change. Messina Denaro may be the last known face of the Mafia.
The arrest of Cosa Nostra boss Matteo Messina Denaro on Monday is not the end of the mafia. Speculation is already swirling about his successor: anti-Mafia experts say several prominent Sicilian Mafia godfathers are poised to inherit Messina Denaro and take over the leadership of Cosa Nostra.
According to legal circles, a “federation” between the ruling clans is entirely possible. Among the bosses who could inherit Messina Denaro’s scepter is Giovanni Motisi, known as Pacchione (the fat one), who has been on the run for several murders since 1998. He was one of Totò Riina’s confidants, for years the first in the mafia. Investigators say 70-year-old Stefano Fidanzati, from the notorious Fidanzati dell’Arenella family of drug dealers, and boss Giuseppe Auteri, who has been in hiding since last year, could also inherit Messina Denaro.
Anti-mafia writer Roberto Saviano, author of the bestseller “Gomorrah”, analyzed the background to the arrest of Messina Denaro. “He is still the king of Cosa Nostra and if he continues to refuse to cooperate with the judicial authorities, he will remain for the mafia,” said Saviano, who has been under police protection for years.
Mafia structural change
With the debate over Messina Denaro’s successor also comes the question of whether a single leader is still appropriate in view of the realignment of the clans. Because they have long resorted to infiltrating politics, administration and business and, for the most part, they act anonymously. This could mean that Messina Denaro, considered the “invisible man”, is the last known face of Cosa Nostra. His arrest also marks the mafia’s structural change, which makes it even more difficult to fight it.
“With the arrest of Messina Denaros, an era comes to an end. He was the point of reference for the old and traditional clans with strong local roots in the Sicilian provinces. But that doesn’t mean that the mafia has been defeated in Italy. It moves from a different way, above all by penetrating the economy”, explained professor Enzo Ciconte, former parliamentarian and anti-mafia expert. Cosa Nostra is increasingly facing competition from the ‘Ndragheta, the mafia from the Calabria region in southern Italy, which is more aggressive and widespread throughout the world. It makes billions of dollars in drug and arms trafficking. The income from this business is invested in the legitimate economy.
With the arrest of Messina Denaro, the list of Italy’s most dangerous fugitives has grown shorter. The most wanted criminal is now 75-year-old Sardinian Attilio Cubeddu. He has been wanted since 1997 for failing to return to Nuoro Prison after a leave of absence, where he was held on charges of kidnapping, murder and aggravated assault. Since then, he has been sought after internationally.
hiding place discovered
Investigations are ongoing into the network of mobsters who allegedly facilitated Messina Denaro’s 30-year escape. A third hideout for the mob boss was discovered on Thursday afternoon in the Sicilian town of Campobello di Mazara, where the boss spent his final months on the run. Written notes and documents dated 2016 were discovered in the cache. The phone numbers are also now being evaluated by investigators. They want to investigate the gang of helpers and accomplices who helped the boss escape.