Italy's most-wanted Mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro arrested after 30 years on the run

Composite image of arrested Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro and map of Italy
Composite image of arrested Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro and map of Italy Copyright Euronews
By Euronews
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Matteo Messina Denaro was nabbed at a medical clinic in Palermo where he had apparently gone for treatment.

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Italy's most-wanted mobster, Sicilian Matteo Messina Denaro, has been arrested, according to Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. 

Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years, was nabbed in Palermo, Sicily. He is considered the successor of the great historical leaders of Cosa Nostra -- like Toto Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, who died in prison in 2016 and 2017.

"After 30 years on the run, the superboss Matteo Messina Denaro has been arrested. It is with great emotion that I thank the women and men of the state who never gave up, confirming the rule that sooner or later even the greatest criminals on the run are arrested," Salvini wrote.

"This is a great day for Italy and serves as a warning to the mafia: the institutions and our heroes in uniform never give up," he added

AFP
Handout picture by the Ufficio Stampa Comando Generale Carabinieri shows wanted mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro (R)AFP

The head of Italy's Carbinieri said Denaro was arrested at a medical facility in Palermo, where he went for treatment for cancer. He had registered there under a false name, Andrea Bonafede. 

He immediately admitted his real identity upon his arrest, Italian media reports.

Denaro has been at the top of Italy's "most wanted criminals" list. 

The former Cosa Nostra gunman was born in 1962 in Trapani, Sicily. However the only known photograph of him dates back to the 1990s. 

Since the 2000s, the Italian police have increased the number of arrests and seizures of property from the people around him, a strategy of isolation that has taken almost 20 years to bear fruit, given his extensive support network.

Italy' prime minister Giorgia Meloni hailed Messina Denaro's capture as "a great victory for the state, which demonstrates we shall never surrender to the Mafia".

She's currently on her way to Palermo, where she'e expected to meet Sicilian police authorities and prosecutors.

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