Matteo Messina Denaro, the Infamous Last Godfather of the Mafia, Dies at the Age of 61

Posted on: September 26, 2023, 04:48h.

Last updated on: September 26, 2023, 04:48h.

Matteo Messina Denaro, believed to be the “capo di tutti capi” – the boss of all bosses – of the Sicilian Mafia has tragically passed away at the age of 61 years old.

Matteo Messina Denaro, Cosa Nostra, Sicilian Mafia
Matteo Messina Denaro, pictured after his arrest in January. The notorious Mafia boss launched a terrorist bombing campaign against the Italian state in the 1990s and was suspected of murdering at least 50 people. He was finally caught while visiting a cancer clinic in Palermo after 20 years in hiding. (Image: EPA)

Dubbed “the last Godfather” by the media, Matteo Messina Denaro evaded capture for 20 years before finally being apprehended in January. His capture came while he was undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer, which ultimately led to his demise.

The Cosa Nostra is a secret Sicilian criminal organization that holds control over various illegal activities, including protection rackets, prostitution, drugs, and illegal gambling. Its influence extends beyond the Mediterranean island and has had a significant impact on the formation of the American Mafia, adopting many of its practices and codes.

War Against State

Messina Denaro was sentenced in absentia to life in prison in 2002 for his involvement in the 1992 murders of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. During this time, the Cosa Nostra was engaged in an open war with the Italian state.

Messina Denaro was also responsible for orchestrating terrorist bomb attacks in Florence, Rome, and Milan in 1993, resulting in 10 casualties and widespread public outrage.

After spending two decades on the run, his arrest at a medical facility in Palermo marked the end of an era. The crime syndicate now faces the challenge of adjusting to this significant change.

‘Filled a Cemetery’

Born in Sicily on April 26, 1962, Matteo Messina Denaro was the son of a well-known Mafia boss. Given the nickname ‘Diabolik,’ after a criminal character from a popular comic book, he began his criminal career as a hitman and quickly rose through the ranks under the ruthless boss, Salvatore Riina, also known as Belva or “The Beast.”

Messina Denaro was suspected of committing over 50 murders and even boasted about single-handedly filling a cemetery.

However, when 100 anti-Mafia Carabinieri agents raided the health facility in January, they discovered a weakened and sick figure who willingly revealed his true identity. Messina Denaro had grown tired of running.

On Friday, he slipped into an irreversible coma, as reported by Italian media. In his final days, his daughter, whom he had met for the first time after his arrest, remained by his side.

“A man who has caused so much harm to his land has passed away,” said Enzo Alfano, the mayor of Castelvetrano. “It will take decades before we can culturally eradicate the mentality and culture of illegality and impunity that he, his followers, and those before him have fostered for far too long.”

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