Italian authorities arrest a mafia boss after 30 years on the run

Italy arrested mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, the country’s most wanted fugitive, on Monday at a health clinic in Palermo, Sicily, after 30 years on the run, according to Italy’s paramilitary police.

Gen. Pasquale Angelosanto, who heads the police force’s special operations squad, said in a statement that Messina Denaro, 60, was arrested at the clinic where he was receiving treatment for a medical condition.

Messina Denaro is seen in a photo released by the police wearing a brown leather jacket, white skull-shaped hat and tinted glasses. Italian state television reported that the police had taken him to a secret location immediately after his arrest.

He was considered the chief of Cosa Nostra in Sicily even when he was on the run and had a power base in the port city of Trapani in western Sicily. Messina Denaro was the last of three long-running high-ranking mafia bosses who evaded authorities for decades.

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Italian fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro was arrested on Monday.

Messina Denaro, who was convicted of dozens of murders, faces multiple life sentences.

He will be put behind bars for two bombings in Sicily in 1992 that killed top anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. He was also convicted of killing the young son of a renegade mafia. That boy was strangled and his body dissolved in acid.

His arrest on Monday came 30 years and a day after convicted president Salvatore “Toto” Reina was arrested on January 15, 1993 in an apartment in Palermo after 23 years on the run. Messina Denaro disappeared that summer when Italy was looking to crack down on the Sicilian crime syndicate in retaliation for the murders of Falcone and Borsellino.

Composite image showing a computer-generated image released by the Italian police, right, and an image of Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro.

Composite image showing a computer-generated image released by the Italian police, right, and an image of Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro.

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The Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, wrote on Twitter that Messina Denaro’s arrest is “a great victory for the state, which shows that it does not give up in the face of the mafia.”

The Italian mafia boss who held the record for the longest time on the lam was Bernardo Provenzano. He was captured on a farm near Corleone, Sicily, in 2006 after 38 years on the run. After Provenzano’s arrest, the authorities focused their attention on Messina Denaro.

A computer-generated image released by the Italian police, of Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro.

A computer-generated image released by the Italian police, of Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro.

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Several sightings of Messina Denaro were reported, but he was not taken into police custody as of Monday.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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