Italian media released the first picture of a mafia boss in 30 years.
After three decades, Italy’s most wanted mafia boss Matteo Messina Tenaro (60) has been arrested, according to media reports. Police officers arrested the man on Monday at a health facility in the Sicilian capital Palermo, police general Pasquale Angelosanto told Italian news agency AGI. The mafioso, who went on the run in 1993 and was sentenced to life in prison for murder, is considered the successor to the historic “godfathers” Bernardo Provenzano and Toto Rina, who died in prison in 2016 and 2017.
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini confirmed the arrest. “Super boss” Tenaro has been arrested, Salvini wrote on the messaging service Whatsapp. He was “deeply moved” and “thanked the women and men of the state who never give up and affirmed the rule that sooner or later even the biggest criminals get away”.
After 30 years of running: Police announce arrest of Cosa Nostra boss(00:29)
He does not use modern communication devices
Tenaro was at the top of the Italian Interior Ministry’s most wanted criminals list. Since the turn of the millennium, investigators have tried to isolate the now 60-year-old in his environment with the help of arrests and seizures. This strategy is currently successful.
In 2015, investigators discovered that Tenaro, who was born near Trapani in western Sicily, did without modern means of communication in order to leave no traces. Instead, he used an old Mafia method called “pizzini” – messages coded on a small piece of paper – to instruct his henchmen. The only known photo of the fugitive is from the early 1990s.
Tenaro was the last mafioso of the 90s
Denaro allegedly committed or arranged dozens of murders. Among them were the 1992 bombings of Mafia hunters Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Porcellino.
Prime Minister Georgia Meloni spoke of a major victory for the state, saying it “shows the mafia is never defeated”. His interior minister, Matteo Piandosi, called the arrest “historic”. Enrico Letta, the opposition leader of the Social Democratic Party, tweeted: “In the end, the mafia is always defeated. This is the central message of this historic January 16. Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi spoke of a “celebration for the whole country”.
He was undergoing treatment at a private hospital
Various anti-Mafia agents from the Carabinieri and the police have been searching for the man for the past few decades. In countless raids on Sicily, he failed again and again. At the request of prosecutors Mauricio de Lucia and Paolo Guido, access was granted to the private clinic “La Maddalena” in Palermo.
As Carabinieri Special Command Chief Pasquale Angelosanto put it, Messina Tenaro stayed there “to receive treatment.” Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that he had a tumor. The arrested man was initially taken to military barracks and was scheduled to be taken to a maximum security prison in Palermo.
His last official film was in the 90s
In the morning, mobile phone videos went viral on the internet, purportedly showing the arrest of the accused or the moments after. They show people clapping in Palermo. In the first photo of the car distributed by the Carabinieri, Messina Tenaro can be seen next to two police officers. He wears a light colored hat and sunglasses. This is the first official film of the man since the early 1990s. So far, law enforcement officials have had only phantom drawings or images for searches, with which computers have calculated what the elderly man might look like today. (AFP/SDA)
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