The Real Life ‘Godfather’
Many compare him to Michael Vito Corleone, a fictional character and the protagonist of Mario Puzo‘s 1969 novel ‘The Godfather‘. Matteo Messina Denaro, the Mafia Kingpin who built an empire across a vast area of Italy, was finally detained by the Police after a three-decade-long search operation. The Italian Police arrested Denaro from a hospital in Sicily on January 17, 2023.
The Police confirmed the news, saying in a statement that Denaro was undergoing cancer treatment at a local clinic in Palermo. According to the statement, the Mafia boss was receiving chemotherapy at the clinic under a false name and identity.
Italy’s most wanted mobster, who used to oversee racketeering, illegal waste dumping, money-laundering and drug-trafficking, hid himself at the back of a wardrobe with a sliding base of his newly-discovered armoured bunker, before visiting the clinic. It is his second hideout that is situated about 300m from his first hideout in the Sicilian town of Campobello di Mazara.
BBC reported that Denaro was undergoing treatment for cancer by identifying himself as Andrea Bonafede, the nephew of deceased Mafia boss Leonardo Bonafede. Through phone-mapping, the Police came to know that the mobile of real Bonafede was not in Palermo in 2020-21, when a person, using that name, had a surgery in the capital of Sicily.
In 2002, an Italian court had sentenced Denaro, the boss of notorious Cosa Nostra organised crime syndicate who has been accused of hundreds of murders, kidnappings, robberies and attacks, to life imprisonment in absentia. However, the Police failed to catch him, as they did not have any photograph of Denaro. In fact, he had been missing since 1993.
During interrogations, Denaro revealed that he used to live in an unassuming house in Campobello di Mazara, 116km from Palermo and just 8km from his birthplace of Castelvetrano, before his arrest. One of his neighbours in Campobello di Mazara told the Italian Television that he often saw the man and that they would greet one another on a regular basis. However, the neighbour had no idea that he was talking to a Mafia king.
Meanwhile, the Police found no weapons in his first hideout, but discovered luxury perfumes, expensive furniture and designer clothes only. Talking to the media, a senior Police officer said that they would soon reveal more information about Denaro.
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