Designer clothes, luxury perfumes and a fridge full of food: Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro did not live a hard life in the lead-up to his arrest. Or, in the words of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica: even in the last moments of his hiding, the “boss” did not abandon pomp and circumstance.
This came about through a search for an apartment in the Sicilian village of Campobello di Mazara, where prosecutors believe Messina Denaro has lived in recent months. In addition to expensive items, the researchers also found restaurant receipts, as well as erection pills and condoms.
One of the defendants concludes that he “wasn’t exactly leading a monastic life.”
always “good morning” and “good evening”
In contrast to the found items, Messina Denaro’s last home was supposed to be modest and simple, on the ground floor of an unremarkable apartment complex. A man who lives on the first floor of the building says of Messina Denarau that he has seen him several times. “I greeted him and nothing else. He responded warmly.”
Other neighbors also describe the mafia boss as a friendly person. One said: “He was a gentleman saying good morning and good evening, he always greeted me.” La Republica.
No resident claims to have recognized Messina Denaro as a fugitive leader of Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian branch of the mafia. 60 years old CapoNicknamed “The Thin”, he was arrested yesterday in a private clinic in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, where he was being treated for liver cancer, among other things.
under the cover name of the hospital
He was not there under his real name: Messina Denaro was registered at the hospital as “Andrea Bonafede”. This is not a made-up name, but that of a real person, who has since been accused of complicity. Bonafide also owned the apartment where Messina Denaro had allegedly lived for the past few months.
The Italian carabinieri suspected for a while that Messina Denaro used another name, but they did not know which one yet. That changed when they discovered he may have had cancer, including by eavesdropping on people from his network.
The name of the mafia boss never appeared in the wiretapped conversations, but it was clear to the police that the callers were talking about Messina Denaro in general.
A search of the medical records of male liver cancer patients in the era of the mobster, among other things, led researchers to the name Andrea Bonafide. Using phone records and CCTV footage, they examined where the real Bonafede was on the days he was hospitalized according to his file.
It turns out that the man has been in the house all this time.
Watch 35,000 euros
Yesterday, on the day that Andrea Bonafede’s new treatment was scheduled, the Carabinieri hit. At the hospital, it is revealed that Andrea is indeed Mateo. According to the police, a watch worth €35,000 was on the wrist of the wanted mafia boss, and he reportedly did not resist arrest. He is alleged to have said when a customer asked him his name: “I am Matteo Messina Denaro”.
This is what the arrest looked like:
Sicilian mafia boss arrested in Palermo after 30 years
The question remains how Messina Denaro, which the Italian police have been searching for for thirty years, could have remained under the radar for so long. In Campobello de Mazara, where several thousand people live, he could walk the streets undisturbed, according to the researchers. “He was leading a normal life, he went to the supermarket,” someone said today.
The mayor of the Sicilian village, who says he has never seen Messina Denaro, questions whether a mafia boss is really capable of walking the streets quietly. “I prefer to imagine he was moving around in the cars of the people who helped him and gave him cover.”
Chief Prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia, who was responsible for the arrest yesterday, believes that Messina Denaro was protected by others because of his high position in the Mafia. According to the prosecutor, the 60-year-old mafia boss, whom he described as “absurd,” appreciated the risk of being caught despite his low status.
Too low, as it turned out yesterday. Messina Denaro, who has been transferred to a maximum security prison in the Abruzzo region, faces a life sentence, previously handed down in absentia.
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