Robust extended family loyalty, locals, helped mafia boss Messina Denaro reside hidden

  • Mafia’s final godfather loved strangely stable loyalty
  • Omerta code of silence additionally helped boss reside hidden
  • ‘Ultimate godfather’ Messina Denaro was once dwelling close to his mom

PALERMO, Italy, Jan 25 (Reuters) – When Salvatore Catalano found out that mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro had lived only a quick stroll from his space within the western Sicilian the town of Campobello di Mazara, he felt in poor health.

Catalano’s brother, Agostino, was once a policeman who died in a 1992 bomb that killed anti-mob Justice of the Peace Paolo Borsellino – a assault that prosecutors say Messina Denaro helped mastermind.

“There may be anger in my center and soul now that I do know he was once right here and I did not recognise him,” Catalano instructed Reuters.

Messina Denaro, 60, was once arrested on Jan. 16 after 30 years at the run. Police imagine he spent a lot of the final 12 months hiding in simple sight in Campobello di Mazara, a the town of a few 11,000 population, only a quick force from his mom’s space.

“We have now celebrated the arrest with my circle of relatives. He is in prison and can now be topic to difficult detention laws,” Catalano mentioned.

The final showed sighting of Messina Denaro was once in 1993, making it tricky for police to spot probably the most sought after guy in Italy. He lead an it appears open lifestyles within the the town, purchasing for himself within the native grocery store, government mentioned.

Prosecutors say their hunt was once additional sophisticated through the strangely stable loyalty he won from individuals of his extended family within the west of Sicily.

Reuters interviewed dozens of citizens at the streets of Campobello and from his within reach native land of Castelvetrano, in addition to prosecutors and police who helped monitor him down.

They published the combat investigators confronted in seeking to spoil during the mafia’s wall of “omerta”, or code of silence, that had shattered in different portions of Sicily, however which nonetheless stood company round Messina Denaro, dubbed through the Italian press as “the final Godfather”.

“I have arrested no less than 200 other folks associated with him. Handiest certainly one of them made up our minds to collaborate with justice,” mentioned Roberto Piscitello, a prosecutor who attempted to seize Messina Denaro from 1996 to 2008.

“Within the within reach provinces of Palermo and Agrigento, 5 out of 10 of the arrested change into turncoats,” he instructed Reuters talking from his house in Marsala, at the western tip of Sicily.

In any case, it wasn’t Messina Denaro’s fellow mobsters who betrayed him, however his failing frame.


Police say they controlled to catch Messina Denaro after finding out from wiretaps of his kinfolk that he had most cancers.

That they had lengthy suspected he was once dwelling in his local Sicily, and an intensive test of most cancers sufferers within the area published {that a} guy named Andrea Bonafede had surgical operation within the western town of Mazara del Vallo on the identical time his cell phone have been energetic in some other a part of the island.

Investigators took that because the “first vital affirmation” that Messina Denaro might be hidden below that false identification, judicial paperwork observed through Reuters confirmed, as it prompt the person having the operation was once no longer the actual Andrea Bonafede, who was once presumed to be together with his telephone.

They homed in at the affected person and realized he was once because of obtain regimen chemotherapy remedy within the island’s capital Palermo on Jan. 16.

Police surrounded the sanatorium and pounced after the affected person arrived for his appointment. He right away said his true identification however gave the impression to sprint any hopes that he would spill the beans on his lifetime of crime.

“I’ve my code of honour,” a legislation enforcement supply quoted him as telling magistrates once they first met him, regarding the Sicilian Mafia’s rule, a lot degraded during the last 30 years, of no longer talking in regards to the organisation to any person outdoor.

His silence manner investigators should attempt to piece in combination as absolute best as they may be able to how he controlled to keep away from detection over the years.

The preliminary center of attention in their probe was once on the actual Andrea Bonafede, a educated surveyor who had no legal report.

Bonafede has showed realizing Messina Denaro since their adolescence and has said purchasing the mobster a flat in Campobello di Mazara, prosecutors mentioned. He himself is below arrest and has no longer commented publicly in regards to the case.

Police also are investigating his motive force, Giovanni Luppino, an olive farmer who additionally had no police report. He was once sporting a switchblade and had grew to become off his two cell phones, in what magistrates say was once an try to save you being traced.

He has denied realizing the actual identification of his passenger.

Palermo Leader Prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia instructed Reuters that males reminiscent of Bonafede represented the “first hyperlink” of the fugitive’s matrix – those that supplied for his elementary wishes.

However he believes his make stronger community had deep roots.

“His territory helped him for a few years. It’s affordable to suppose he won coverage from pros, marketers,” he mentioned.

Amongst the ones already below investigation for allegedly helping and abetting the boss is his physician, Alfonso Tumbarello. His legal professional mentioned he was once assured his shopper may end up his innocence.


Magistrates mentioned they discovered proof that Messina Denaro had visited Spain, Greece and Austria through the years. However the principle center of attention of his industry actions remained in western Sicily, that means he more than likely spent a lot of his time at the island.

Dozens of lower-level mafiosi had been arrested within the area over the years – a scaling down of Messina Denaro’s interior circle that magistrates mentioned again and again interrupted promising leads that they’d was hoping would at some point take them to the boss.

“(However) lets no longer sacrifice justice. Lets no longer go away mobsters at the streets,” Prosecutor Paolo Guido, who led the lengthy hunt to the boss within the final years, instructed Reuters.

Prosecutors mentioned the mob leader constructed a wide selection of economic pursuits that went a long way past conventional mafioso issues, serving to him arrange a devoted community of white collar pros.

A secret 2013 recording made in jail published former boss of bosses, Salvatore “the Beast” Riina, had complained that his one-time protege was once making an investment in renewable power initiatives reasonably than specializing in hardcore Mafia actions.

“Within the Sicilian context, those that are believed to create jobs and the potential for doing industry download consensus, coverage,” mentioned Colonel Antonello Parasiliti Molica, who heads the Carabinieri particular forces anti-crime unit in Palermo.

Writing through Angelo Amante; Enhancing through Crispian Balmer and Ross Colvin

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Consider Rules.

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