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Italian Mafia boss who spent more than 30 years on the run dies months after being captured

Italian Mafia boss who spent more than 30 years on the run dies months after being captured

Matteo Messina Denaro was called 'the devil' and spent 30 years on the run

One of Italy's most notorious Mafia bosses has died from cancer.

Matteo Messina Denaro shocked the world with his horrific crimes, which got him the disturbing nickname 'The Devil'. The Mafia boss was a leader of the infamous Cosa Nostra from Sicily.

Denaro flanked by carabinieri following his arrest.
Carabinieri via Getty Images

Other groups such as the Camorra from Campania and the 'Ndrangheta from Calabria have since drawn a lot of media attention.

However, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra captured public imagination due to their inspiring Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather, which went on to be made into the classic films directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Messina Denaro was one of the most notorious criminals from Italy. This was no mean feat given the country's historic struggle against organised crime, which has seen even judges and sitting members of parliament murdered.

Indeed, the criminal was directly involved in murders of this magnitude, being prosecuted for his part in the killing of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

His notoriety saw Messina Denaro becoming one of the most wanted men in Italy, and he once bragged that he had killed enough people to 'fill a cemetery'.

The crime lord had been suffering from cancer, and was transferred from the maximum security prison where he was being held to hospital, where he died.

Denaro was transferred to hospital, where he died from cancer.
Carabinieri via Getty Images

Born the son of notorious Sicilian gangster Francesco Don Ciccio in 1962, Denaro was already carrying a gun by the age of just 15.

Police have claimed that he went on to carry out his first killing when he was 18 years old as part of an action by Corleonesi mafia to destroy two rebellious families.

In 1998 his father was found dead, and he inherited the leadership.

Following decades on the run involving carrying out numerous murders, as well as involvement in criminal operations and bombings, he was finally arrested following a police raid in January 2023.

Prior to that, the last confirmed sighting of him had been some 30 years earlier in 1993, when he was spotted in Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany holidaying with two friends.

Denaro was arrested while visiting a private medical clinic in Palermo, the largest city in Sicily, where he had reportedly been receiving cancer treatment.

It had previously been reported by Italian media that he had received surgery for colon cancer in 2020 and 2022 using a false name.

Footage showed crowds cheering as he was led away in handcuffs.

Featured Image Credit: Carabinieri via Getty Images

Topics: News, World News, Crime, True crime