Mafia Boss Matteo Messina Denaro, Longtime Fugitive, Passes Away While Under Medical Care

L'Aquila, Italy- Matteo Messina Denaro, a prominent figure in the Cosa Nostra crime syndicate who spent close to three decades evading authorities, has passed away while undergoing medical treatment, according to reports from Italian media sources.

Denaro, widely believed to have orchestrated numerous Mafia-related killings on behalf of the Cosa Nostra, breathed his last at the San Salvatore hospital in L’Aquila, central Italy. He had been receiving treatment for colon cancer, as reported by public broadcaster Rai on Monday.

The notorious fugitive, apprehended in January at a private health facility in Palermo, had been on the run since 1993. Europol had identified him as one of Europe's most sought-after individuals, affirmed prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia in an earlier statement to CNN.

In absentia, Denaro had been sentenced to multiple life terms for a litany of criminal activities, notably in 1992 for his role in the assassinations of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

In 2020, he was handed down his latest life sentence for orchestrating fatal bombings in Milan, Florence, and Rome during the late 1990s. This sentence also encompassed the heinous murder and torture of an 11-year-old son of an adversary who had provided testimony against the Cosa Nostra.

At the time of his demise, cases related to the killings of Falcone, Borsellino, and young Giuseppe Di Matteo were in the process of being elevated to higher courts.

Denaro's status as the longest-standing fugitive within the ranks of the Cosa Nostra was a testament to his elusive nature, evading capture for nearly three decades.

The January operation that led to his apprehension at the Maddalena clinic involved over 100 agents from the anti-Mafia Carabinieri.

In the lead-up to Denaro's capture, anti-Mafia security forces had been tightening their grip on his network, seizing approximately €3 billion ($3.25 billion) in assets linked to allies, relatives, and associates suspected of aiding his life in hiding. This crackdown occurred between 2009 and 2010.

Denaro, also known as "Diabolik," is often regarded as a successor to Bernardo Provenzano, who gained notoriety with his arrest at a farmhouse outside Corleone, Sicily, in April 2006.

Crime ran deep within Denaro's family, as he was born to a recognized Mafia boss in Sicily on April 26, 1962. Among those apprehended in the 2009-2010 operation was his brother, Salvatore Messina Denaro, who steadfastly refused to disclose his whereabouts.

In 2013, Denaro's sister, Patrizia Messina Denaro, received a 14-year prison sentence, a term she is presently serving, for her affiliation with the Mafia.

Felia Allum, a professor specializing in comparative organized crime and corruption at the University of Bath in the UK, noted in January that Denaro represented the last vestige of an older generation of Mafia leaders.

“He represents the final link between the belligerent and overt Cosa Nostra of the early 1990s and the silent, business-like Mafia of the 21st century,” she remarked at the time.