Updated Jan 16, 2023, 11:43am EST

Who is Matteo Messina Denaro, the mafia boss arrested in Sicily after 30 years on the run?


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Matteo Messina Denaro, Italy's most-wanted mafia boss who has been on the run for 30 years, was arrested Monday while receiving medical treatment in Sicily.

A screengrab taken from a video shows Matteo Messina Denaro the country's most wanted mafia boss being escorted out of a Carabinieri police station after he was arrested in Palermo, Italy, January 16, 2023.
Carabinieri/Handout via REUTERS

Videos shared on social media, including by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, showed people celebrating in the streets following Denaro's arrest.

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Who is Denaro?

Allegedly the leader of Sicily’s Cosa Nostra syndicate, Denaro is linked to the murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992. He was sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

Denaro is also linked to bomb attacks in Milan, Rome, and Florence in 1993, which killed 10 people, as well as the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Giuseppe Di Matteo, the 12-year-old son of a witness who was set to testify against the mafia.

The mafia boss once famously claimed that he was responsible for so many killings that he “filled a cemetery, all by myself.”

Despite decades on the run, Denaro, 60, was reportedly still giving orders to mafia members as of last fall, Italian police said.

At the time of his arrest, Denaro was receiving medical treatment in Palermo for cancer, under the false name of Andrea Bonafede.


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