The mafia boss, on the run for 30 years, Matteo Messina Denaro, was captured by the Carabinieri of Ros in a private clinic in Palermo, where he was being treated with daily therapies for an illness that allegedly struck him a year ago. The news went around the world confirming how important it is the ending of such a long period of hiding of one of the most wanted men in the world.
The magistrates had already been following the movements of the man they believed to be Matteo Messina Denaro for some time and have, in recent days, granted the blitz which involved a large number of agents with covered faces who surrounded the clinic and proceeded to identification of the boss despite false identity data used for the acceptance documents. The super fugitive replied to a carabiniere who asked him who he was, using his real full name and thus confirming his identity.
In addition to Messina Denaro, another man was also arrested guilty of helping the criminal with paperwork and travel. After the arrest, the godfather was transferred to a maximum-security prison as happened after the capture of the other super fugitive Totò Riina, from whom Matteo Messina Denaro apparently had gathered power. The investigative trail that led the police forces to the Palermo clinic was based on the collection, over the last few decades, of all the information and circumstantial data relating to the boss and extrapolated from telephone and environmental interceptions, state databases and “voices” collected by those who would have had, in all these years, even the slightest useful information.
The capture of Messina Denaro is a great blow to organized mafia all over the world and represents yet another victory for the state against the perpetrators of the massacres that have characterized much of the last 40 years. The result of the judiciary, the State Police and the Carabinieri gives new life to the Italian and international investigative system still engaged in the search for criminals still at large and the research work must remain active in order to leave no way for the fugitives to regroup, as happened, for too long to mafia men like Matteo Messina Denaro.
The accusations against the Cosa Nostra boss are multiple and extremely serious, relating to many murders, extortion and kidnappings. His capture marks, at least for the moment, the end of the mafia system relating to the Trapani area of which Matteo Messina Denaro is believed to have remained the undisputed leader to this day. During the arrest phases, the Carabinieri of Ros had no need to use force or handcuffs as, on the part of the boss, there was no attempt to escape or resist arrest. The military immediately noticed that the subject’s health, at least in appearance, did not seem precarious, despite the proven illness he suffers from and that the clothing was decidedly well-groomed, as if, until now, Messina Denaro had had a certain financial liquidity available. These conditions suggest, to the investigators, a network of individuals who collaborated with the criminal and, towards whom, the investigations of these days are already concentrating.
The health conditions of Matteo Messina Denaro, over the years on the run, have often been precarious and, on all the occasions in which the boss has needed special care, the judiciary has been close to arrest without, however, succeeding to make it concrete for the subject’s ability to hide in places that are often too well guarded by various accomplices and friends. To meet the need for dialysis for some problems of chronic renal insufficiency, in recent years, it seems that the godfather of Cosa Nostra had all the necessary machinery installed in the bunker in which he was hidden to, thus, avoid dangerous “exits”.
The historic result achieved by the Italian police forces is the fruit of the never so fruitful collaboration between the police, carabinieri and judiciary and the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, publicly thanked all those who participated, at all levels, in the investigations and the capture of the wanted man. The signal given to all the Italian mafia associations with this operation is clear and powerful. Although decades later, the state made an arrest that will long be considered the most important in the recent history of the mafia in Italy and in the world.
Matteo Messina Denaro’s hiding had begun in 1993 when, through the words of a letter sent to his then girlfriend, the boss and close collaborator of Totò Riina, following the mafia massacres of which he was accused, in Rome, Milan and Florence, declared the beginning of his new life as “Primula Rossa”, already foreseeing the accusations that would have been made against him for the numerous bloody events of the time.
Among the heinous murders attributed to Matteo Messina Denaro, that of little Giuseppe di Matteo, son of a mafia repentant, who was strangled and then dissolved in acid to eliminate traces after 2 years of imprisonment, became sadly famous. The Trapani boss is also accused of the 1992 massacres in which the heroic judges Falcone and Borsellino were killed as well as for the 1993 attacks in Milan, Florence and Rome. The men, means and structures involved over the years in the research of Matteo Messina Denaro are many and forced the boss into hiding in different parts of the world, until his arrest which sees him in second place in the ranking of the longest fugitives, after that of Bernardo Provenzano, which lasted 38 years.
Even the Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni thanked all the men engaged in the investigation and in the capture of Messina Denaro and on the road to the Sicilian capital, together with the Undersecretary to the Presidency Alfredo Mantovano, she wanted to stop in religious gathering in front of the stele of Capaci in memory of the judge Giovanni Falcone, who died in the mafia attack in 1992. Giorgia Meloni herself expressed satisfaction with this victory by the Italian justice and said she was willing to propose the date of Matteo Messina Denaro’s arrest as an official date to commemorate the importance of war against all mafias.
Now it will be essential to make the strong presence of the state felt in those places, in Italy, as well as in the rest of the world, where the mafia is still an integral part of the social fabric. Outside the clinic where the Trapani boss was arrested, many Sicilians applauded the police, demonstrating courage and desire not to surrender to the evil of organized crime and it is precisely to them that the state’s interest in the safeguarding the healthy part of all cities affected by mafia cancer.
Currently there are still free mafia men towards whom the police have been working for years to arrive at relevant results such as the one of these days. Collaboration between nations has been and will still be essential for the formation of an efficient research network capable of finding criminals despite accomplices and social structures that are still too conniving.