Jan 16, 2023 - World

Italian police arrest country's most-wanted mafia boss

Matteo Messina Denaro being transported by police after being arrested in Sicily, on Jan. 16.

Matteo Messina Denaro being transported by police in a van after being arrested in Sicily, on Jan. 16. Photo: Carabinieri via Getty Images

Italian police on Monday arrested the country's most-wanted fugitive, Matteo Messina Denaro, a boss of the notorious Cosa Nostra mafia, AP reports.

Why it matters: Messina Denaro had been on the run from authorities for three decades. He was tried and convicted in absentia in 2002 for numerous murders, receiving multiple life sentences.

  • Dozens of police were involved in the operation to arrest Messina Denaro at a private clinic in Sicily where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed medical condition, according to BBC.

What they're saying: "A great victory for the state which demonstrates that it does not give up in the face of the mafia," Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a translated post on social media on Monday.

  • "My warmest thanks, together with those of the entire government, go to the police forces, and in particular to the Ros dei Carabinieri, to the national anti-mafia prosecutor and to the Palermo prosecutor for the capture of the most significant exponent of mafia crime," Meloni added.

The big picture: Messina Denaro is now set to be imprisoned over two bombings in Sicily in the early 1990s, including one that killed the country's two top anti-Mafia prosecutors at the time.

  • He was also convicted of kidnapping, torturing and killing the 11-year-old son of another mafioso who became a state witness.
  • He oversaw several other crimes for the Cosa Nostra, including racketeering, illegal waste dumping, money laundering and drug trafficking.
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