Who is Matteo Messina Denaro, “the last godfather” and “capo of capos” who continued to manage Costa Nostra from the shadows

A combination of images shows a computer-generated image released by Italian police, right, next to a photograph of mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro. The police announced his arrest on Monday, January 16, 2023, after 30 years on the run. (Italian Police, LaPresse via AP) (Uncredited/)

With the arrest this Monday of Matteo Messina Denaroconsidered the last “boss of bosses” of Cosa Nostrathe mafia of Sicily (Southern Italy) and the most wanted man in Italyconcludes a story of blood, power, and the secrecy that has protected him for 30 years.

The “last godfather”, 60, was detained at the private clinic “the Madeleine” from Palermo, the Sicilian capital, where he had gone for medical treatment with the arrogance of knowing that he was protected by a network that had allowed him to be hidden from the world for 30 years in his native Sicily.

The fugitive, known by the nicknames of “U siccu” (the thin one, in Sicilian dialect) or “Diabolik” because he liked the well-known thief from the famous comic, he was born in the Sicilian town of castelvetrano and his father, “Don Ciccio”, was already the head of the Trapani mafia.

Matteo Messina Denaro - Mafia - Cosa Nostra -Italy
A police officer holds a photograph of the fugitive 60-year-old Sicilian godfather Matteo Messina Denaro (ANSA / AFP) (HANDOUT /)

Little by little he ascended positions in Cosa Nostra and the investigators considered that he became the “Boss of Bosses” of the Sicilian mafia already from his hiding place after the arrest of Toto Riinajust 30 years ago, and after Bernardo Provenzanowho was on the run from Justice for 38 years.

Messina Denaro wore fugitive since summer 1993, when in a letter written to his then girlfriend, Angela, after the mafia massacres in Rome, Milan and Florence, he announced the beginning of his life as a fugitive from Justice. “You will hear from me (implying that I knew that soon after her name would be associated with serious bloodshed) and paint me as a demon, but they are all falsehoods,” she wrote.

The last sentence considers him the mastermind of the attacks that caused the death of the two anti-mafia magistrates in 1992 Paolo Borsellino Y Giovanni Falconehis wife, Francesca Morvilleand eight escort agents.

This May 23, 1992 file photo shows damage to a highway linking Palermo to its airport after a bomb blast killed anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three police officers escorting them.  (AP Photo/Nino Labruzzo, files)
This May 23, 1992 file photo shows damage to a highway linking Palermo to its airport after a bomb blast killed anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three police officers escorting them. (AP Photo/Nino Labruzzo, files) (AP/)

In addition, he accumulated various life sentences for dozens of murders, including that of the little Giuseppe Di Matteothe son of the strangled collaborator of justice and dissolved in acid after almost two years of captivity.

In recent years, some details of his life have become known, such as that, despite being the most wanted man in Italy, this did not prevent him from travel to Barcelona to have eye surgeryas has been shown in several investigations.

The power of the considered last boss of Cosa Nostra, the last of the “Corleoneses”, is demonstrated not only in his extensive network of contacts and figureheads that he has procured over the years, but can also be quantified in the more than 4,000 million euros that has been confiscated from those around them.

According to the investigators, Messina Denaro continued from clandestinity issuing orders in Cosa Nostra, as evidenced by the “pizzini”the little pieces of paper with which its members communicate, intercepted by the Italian Police in recent years.

Matteo Messina Denaro - Mafia - Cosa Nostra -Italy
Italy’s most wanted mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro (right) being escorted in a vehicle by carabinieri after being arrested in his native Sicily after 30 years on the run. (Official Stampa General Carabinieri Command / AFP) (-/)

There were only a few photographs of him from 30 years ago and the last robot portrait includes new details entrusted to the Police by some of the detainees around him, which are incredibly similar to those that have been seen in a published photograph. today by the authorities, in which he is seen in a car with the carabinieri who have arrested him.

In this image he appears older, with dyed black hair, slightly heavier, but above all without the dark glasses with which he was known due to vision problems.

Although his figure has always been surrounded by legends, the researchers pointed out that the elusive “capo” of Costa Nostra was a very different personality to that of the rest of the mafia bosses like Riina and Provenzano, of low intelligence and hidden for years in the middle of the countryside in terrible conditions.

About Messina Denaro there was talk of his great intelligence and that he loved luxury, travel, cars and clothes, and now, after his arrest, many of these legends that were built over years can be clarified.

(By Cristina Cabrejas, EFE)

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They arrested the boss of Cosa Nostra, Matteo Messina Denaro, the most wanted mobster in Italy and a fugitive for 30 years