Matteo Messina Denaro, one of the bosses of the Cosa Nostra Mafia in Sicily and Italy’s most wanted man, has been arrested by police while being treated in a private health clinic in Palermo, prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia said Monday.
He had been a fugitive since 1993 and was considered by Europol one of the most wanted men in Europe, de Lucia told CNN.
“It is a victory for all the police forces that have worked together over these long years to bring the dangerous fugitive to justice,” Italy’s Chief of Police, Lamberto Giannini, said in a statement congratulating the Carabinieri – Italy’s military police – and the Palermo Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Government officials took to Twitter to celebrate the arrest as a “victory” for Italy.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tweeted: “A great victory for the state which demonstrates that it does not give up in the face of the Mafia.”
Defense Minister Guido Crosetto called the arrest “a sign of a state that wins against Mafia.”
Denaro was sentenced to life in prison in absentia in 1992 for his role in the murders of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, and is thought to be responsible for dozens of Mafia-related murders.
Known as Diabolik, he is regarded as one of the successors of Bernardo Provenzano, who was arrested outside Corleone, Sicily, in April 2006.
He was taken into custody during a raid carried out by specialized agents with the anti-Mafia Carabinieri in the early hours of the morning.
A suspected sighting of him in September 2021 led to a manhunt and hundreds of tips, the prosecutor said.