Once On Top; The Decline of Italy’s Most Notorious Mobster


Matthew Brosnan, Author

Who is Matteo Messina Denaro?

     Matteo Messina Denaro was a boss in one of Italy’s high-profile mafias in the early 1990s. He worked his way to become the top boss and committed many crimes such as kidnapping and murder. His former boss, Salvatore “Toto” Rllna, is said to be linked to Denaro’s various crimes. However, Rllna died of an unspecified health issue in 2017. Denaro’s most notable crimes were the murder of rival mafia boss, Antonella Bonnano, and 12-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo. The police tried to convict him of these crimes forcing him into hiding for the next 30 years. 

How was he hiding for so long?

     Denaro was able to hide in small towns all across Sicily. The police have found two confirmed safe houses of his in a small Sicilian town, Campobello Di Mazara. He was living a completely normal life with even his neighbors calling him a great guy. This shock of hiding in plain sight might make you wonder, “how did they not find him?” That is the question that news outlets have asked. A source claims that the police had only started looking over after twenty years Denaro has escaped into hiding. This raises the question, how badly did they want to find him?

The Arrest

     The arrest of Denaro was calmer than one may think. It was not an action-packed police chase, instead, it was at a hospital in Palermo, Italy. Denaro had arrived at the hospital a few days prior to be treated for his cancer. He is videoed being taken out of the private hospital and into the police car with no resistance. Many sources believe that he had given up due to his declining health. Overall, justice has been served for the grieving families, however, no word on the integrity of the mafia he once ran.