Matteo Messina Denaro, capo dei capi (boss of bosses) of the powerful and transnational Cosa Nostra Siciliana, was arrested today at a medical clinic in Palermo. Denaro had been on the run since 1993—that’s 30 years ago.
During the escape period he never left Sicily. This is because the Mafia controls territories and maintains an irresistible social pressure. People keep silent out of fear. It is the famous “omertà”, the “mafia law of silence”.
The journalist and writer Leonardo Sciascia defined the “omertà” as “solidarity through fear”.
Born in 1962, the Capo Mafia was part of the terrorist Cosa Nostra (“Stragista”). The one who declared war on the Italian state and exploded bombs and killed in Rome, Florence and Milan. The terrorist Cosa Nostra was commanded by the bloodthirsty Salvatore Totò Riina, another who had been on the run for more than 18 years, also without leaving Sicily.
Denaro was Riina’s righthand man and controlled the Mafia in the province of Trapani. His cell (“famiglia”, in Mafia jargon) was in the town of Castelveltrano.
Don Ciccio was Denaro’s father. During his lifetime and for years, old Ciccio was the capo of the old Mafia of Castelveltrano.
At the Maddalena Clinic, where he was arrested on the way out, Denaro received therapeutic treatment in the oncology department. It was registered under the false name Bonafede.
Specialist in the study of the phenomenon of the Sicilian Mafia, Denaro took over the government of the Cosa Nostra with the arrest of Totò Riina on January 15, 1993.
In the hierarchy, Bernardo Provenzano would be the natural successor to Riina, but he, also on the run for over 20 years, was the theorist, not the terrorist mafia’s operator of the season. Therefore, Denaro is appointed as Riina’s successor.
Riina died in silence, as befits a big mafia boss. He never confessed or wanted to benefit from the premium right. Denaro must have the same attitude as a boss’s son who bore the title “Don” and was a student of Riina.
Denaro was involved in terrorist attacks in Rome and Florence, in the war on the nationstate declared by Riina. He was responsible for the deaths of judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, heroes of the antimafia fight and both busted by the Cosa Nostra.
The arrest was carried out by a special group of Carabinieri (ROS). The people of Palermo took to the streets to celebrate the arrest of the big boss.
In Sicily, nobody forgets the death of little Giuseppe di Matteo, kidnapped by the mafia on November 23, 1993. The boy was the son of gangster Mario Santo Di Matteo.
The father, Santo di Matteo, had been arrested and became a judicial officer. The kidnapping of little Giuseppe was to force the father to contradict the allegations made by the Ministry of State in the court of Palermo and in a public hearing.
When the father maintained the complaint in Palermo court, the boy was strangled and the body dissolved in sulfuric acid. Denaro was involved in the kidnapping (January 1993) and subsequent assassination (1996) of Giuseppe Di Mateo.
The boy Di Matteo was kidnapped at the age of 12. He was born on January 19, 1981 in Palermo. He spent three years (January 1996) in a private prison.
The material executor of the kidnapping and strangulation, during which the body was dissolved in acid, was Giovanni Brusca, who became an associate of the judiciary. Gaspare Spatuzza, the greatest killer in the history of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, was involved in the kidnapping.
In Brazil we have two translated works on Matteo Messina Denaro and Gaspare Spatuzza, both by Professor Alessandra Dino and published by Unesp.