Luxury clothes, Viagra Found In Safehouse Of Italian Mafia Boss

Luxury clothes, Viagra Found In Safehouse Of Italian Mafia Boss

The 60-year-old mafia was detained while visiting a health clinic in Palermo. (File)

Rome:

Italian police on Tuesday searched the Sicilian apartment where fugitive Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro lived before his arrest ended 30 years on the run, finding Prada shoes, condoms and Viagra — but no weapons, media reports said.

The 60-year-old, who was detained on Monday while visiting a health clinic in Palermo, had been living in the small town of Campobello di Mazara, just up the road from his hometown of Castelvetrano in western Sicily.

Police officers guarded the entrance to the road leading to the unremarkable yellow apartment building.

Inside, authorities found a well-stocked fridge, dozens of pairs of shoes, clothes from major luxury brands, condoms and Viagra pills, media reports said.

Messina Denaro was arrested on Monday morning at the private La Maddalena health clinic, where he had an appointment for treatment for colon cancer.

He had been using a false identity, calling himself Andrea Bonafede, and apparently told his neighbours he was a doctor.

A powerful boss of the Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia that inspired the hit “Godfather” movies, he had not been seen in public since 1993.

According to anti-mafia investigators, he had been an active boss for the Trapani region — beyond his territory — including in the resolution of disputes and top Mafia appointments.

He was well-dressed and sported an expensive watch when he was arrested. He was then transported by military helicopter to the central eastern region of Abruzzo, where officials said he would be jailed in the high-security prison in L’Aquila.

Health problems

Messina Denaro was one of the mob’s most brutal bosses, whose convictions included a life sentence given in absentia in 2020 for the 1992 murder of anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone.

He was a leading figure in some of the Mafia’s most violent episodes, which triggered a crackdown by the authorities that today has left it much weakened.

While on the run he “enjoyed high-level protection, and the investigations are now focused on that protection”, Palermo prosecutor Maurizio De Lucia said on Monday.

The mobster’s doctor, Alfonso Tumbarello, is one of those being investigated, reports said.

After years eluding capture, it was Messina Denaro’s illness that proved his undoing.

Investigators heard members of his family and his friends on wiretapped conversations discussing the medical problems of an unnamed person who suffered from cancer, as well as eye problems.

Detectives were sure they were talking about Messina Denaro, who was believed to have undergone an eye operation in the 1990s.

“We had unequivocal information that the fugitive had health problems… that he was attending a health facility in order to treat his illness,” special operations commander Pasquale Angelosanto told a press conference Monday.

“So we worked to identify… those who had access to treatment for the suspected pathologies,” he said.

King of Cosa Nostra

Investigators have in the past claimed Messina Denaro was based in Sicily but travelled widely, to mainland Italy and overseas. Prosecutors declined to comment on Monday.

But experts said he needed to stay close to home to maintain his power and protection, like Mafia top boss Toto Riina, who was arrested in Palermo in 1993 after two decades on the run. Riina died in 2017.

According to the Il Messaggero newspaper, Messina Denaro had a fortune worth up to four billion euros, earned through drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering.

Roberto Saviano, the journalist who exposed the inner workers of the Naples-based Camorra mafia, described Messina Denaro as “the king” of Cosa Nostra.

“He was the last of the mass murderers, the man who carried out the violent massacres of the Cosa Nostra,” Mr Saviano told AFP.

“After which the organisation, precisely because of those decisions, weakened over the years”, becoming “less strong economically”, he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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