Matteo Messina Denaro: The bloody path of the leader of Cosa Nostra

It was a foggy Monday that dawned in Palermo, quite cold and people walking around in warm clothes.

The diary read January 16, 2023 and the sixty-year-old gentleman approaching the “La Madalena” clinic was well dressed and wearing a cap. When he got close he saw a heavy police presence around the building and dozens of carabinieri armed everywhere.

One of them, Colonel Lucio Arcindiacono, had every reason to be on the alert, knowing like many others the target they were waiting for.

The “target” was the well-dressed gentleman with the cap, it was said Matteo Messina Denaro and it was the most wanted leader of Cosa Nostra.

He was already approaching a cafe near the clinic when he suddenly decided to turn and walk away with a steady step, only to it was late now. A police officer approached him and asked him to say his name, looking him in the eye, while other colleagues approached.

The sixty-year-old, who did not try to leave, replied with eight words: “You know who I am. I am Matteo Messina Denaro».

A little bit later people applauded the members of the Squadra Antimafia of Palermo and the carabinieri who, after three decades, arrested the “chief of chiefs” and one of the most notorious mobsters of Cosa Nostra. THE bloody path of capo di tutti I capi’ had come to an end.

Matteo Messina Denaro: Italian mafia boss arrested in Sicily


No mercy for the child

It was cold that January 1996 and in the hideout that the Sicilian Mafia kept captive for two years the little Giuseppe Di Matteo, the tension had risen. The calendar read the 11th of the month and the boy was completing 779 days of being held hostage because his mobster father had betrayed Cosa Nostra’s Omerta when he was arrested in a raid by the Squadra Antimafia of Palermo.

His abduction was the reprisals ordered by the paesanos from Corleone – as they called the godfathers who came from there – for Santino Di Matteo’s testimony to the inquisitor.

However, fearing the reactions of the Italian society which shocked by the kidnapping of an 11-year-old childthey kept the little boy alive for more than two years.

But that day, the call to kidnap mastermind Giovanni Brusca – the Corleonesi’s top lad – was clear. They had to finish with the little one, who was almost constantly sick from the abuse.


Among Giuseppe’s executioners on that cold January day, a handsome, impeccably dressed man in his thirties, Matteo Messina Denaro, reportedly stood out. Although his involvement in the child’s murder has not yet been clarified, too many believe that Denaro had no qualms about strangling the little boy and then disintegrating his limp body in a vat of acid..

It already was wanted since 1990accused of everything imaginable, especially murder, this mobster who gradually rose to the top of the Sicilian Mafia.

It took thirty years to capture the still elusive ‘capo di tutti I capi.

It was the “ghost” of Trapani who was constantly hiding, sometimes mocking the police who were looking for him, but finally his time came, after a “bloody” journey of decades.

“I have filled a graveyard”

“These fools will never catch me” he wrote in a note he sent to a colleague, the famous piccini, very small pieces of paper folded so that they are almost invisible to the human eye.

Now in his 60s, the previously elusive leader of Cosa Nostra still runs his “organization” changing shelters every week.

He is charged with murder at least 58 people and, as he had said to a friend smilingly one evening of merrymaking, “I have filled a graveyard by myself.” The Italian media describe him as a maniacal playboy, a true copy of the cinematic Tony Montana in the legendary film “The Marked”.

He essentially disappeared from the face of the earth after the Mafia bombings which he undertook to carry out himself in Rome, Florence and the martyred Palermo. He was the one waiting to show Judge Giovanni Falcone’s car to give the signal for the ensuing terrific explosion to take place and toss it into the air, along with its attendants.

Squadra Antimafia men who have been chasing him for three decades speak of a special mobster who represents and unites the old and new generations of the Sicilian Mafia.

Often acting like the capos of old, he considers himself to be the head of a higher authority, into which only a few “chosen” could enter.

“He allows very few – those who are very much his own – to enter, but at the same time don’t imagine that Matteo Messina Denaro is living in some poor farmhouse, eating radishes. He has indulged in one intense lifestyle” said an inspector who has studied him a lot.

He had a cult of expensive sports cars and collectible watch models from famous Swiss houses, while he was always a lover of the fairer sex.

So far he had countless mistresses and fathered a dozen childrenwhile after the arrest and death of Bernardo Provenzano, he became the “chief of chiefs”.


The “ghost” from Trapani

In November 2019 a gigantic Squadra Antimafia operation unfolded across Italy which resulted in dozens of arrests of Denaro’s associates. Three of them were even part of his very close circle, while among those arrested was the mobster’s sister.

But thanks to a very sophisticated network of associates the boss of Cosa Nostra he did not fall into the hands of the police who were chasing him for three decades.

The reason is easily explained.

He is the man who in 1993 executed the godfather Vincenzo Milazzo and without a second thought strangled the victim’s pregnant fiancee.

It is believed that by his own actions he brought the Colombian drug cartels very close to Cosa Nostra, opening new and more profitable ways of cooperation in the cocaine trade.

Born and raised in Trapani, Denaro he had already learned to shoot a revolver at the age of 14 and almost from a teenager he followed the path of his heart, entering the bosom of the Mafia.

He proved to be one of its most relentless executors, went through various stages of the hierarchy and at 60 years old was still – until a few days ago – an unimaginable “ghost”.


Only one photo of him exists from when he was young. The one showing a handsome young man in sunglasses, reminding many who have dabbled in the Mafia theme of two strange coincidences.

There was also a unique photo of Bernardo Provenzano, the man who succeeded Toto Riina on the throne of the leader of the Sicilian Mafia.

She was drawn when he too was a young man, a villager from Corleone who rose with Riina to the leadership of Cosa Nostra, outsmarting all the rival godfathers.

He was arrested after thirty years in a farm outside Corleone by inspector Renato Cortese who tracked him down after days of surveillance.

His successor, Matteo Messina Denaro, remained until last week a man on the loose, still deep down believing he would never be caught.

Finally the man they had been labeled as was caught the “last Mohican” of the Mafiaa 60-year-old man who certainly wasn’t sleeping soundly at night.

Not because the Erinyes were chasing him, but as a result of the bloody path Matteo Messina Denaro chose, never caring if he killed an innocent child or a pregnant woman who were not his fault.

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