Bath. Matteo Messina Denaro, one of the leaders of the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra, has finally been taken into custody after 30 years. Police learned that Denaro was being treated at the private Maddalena clinic in Palermo, so about 100 police officers surrounded the clinic and Denaro was apprehended. For several weeks, rumors had circulated that Denaro was ill and undergoing chemotherapy – but it came as a surprise to the public that Italy’s most wanted man was being treated alongside ordinary citizens at a Palermo clinic.
He was queuing up for tests when a police officer asked him who he was. A colleague standing beside him tried to save him, but he came forward and simply replied “I am Matteo Messina Denaro”. Investigators told their press conference that the need for health care ultimately made it possible to identify and capture Denero. Denaro’s arrest on January 16 came exactly 30 years and one day after the arrest of his mentor, Toto “The Beast” Reina. It seems significant that after three decades on the run, it was on this date that the government finally managed to nab him.
This indicated that the internal organization of the Cosa Nostra was changing and perhaps one of them decided to leave him because he was no longer “useful” to them. Denaro is the last boss who knows all the secrets surrounding the Cosa Nostra terrorist attacks in the early 1990s. So can it be said that he can piece together the scattered pieces of the post-war mafia puzzle. However, it is highly unlikely, so anyone who has any hopes in this regard may be disappointed. He is the last known face of the leadership of the Cosa Nostra. Investigators know little about what the current leader looks like and will now be taking extra precautions as they hunt for other Mafia suspects.
A bridge between old and new masters
Denaro was the last of the mafia bosses of the older generation. He represents the last link between the combative and direct Cosa Nostra of the early 1990s and the silent, business-like Mafia of the 21st century. He was born into a mafia family and was known for his violence. He is the last mafia boss associated with the Corleone generation, a group of mafiosi (led by Riina and Bernardo Provenzano) that essentially waged a war against the Italian state in the early 1990s. The arrest is a clear victory for the Italian state, but it must be asked why it took so long to find Denaro in Sicily. Her protective cordon has clearly been tough to break through. The police have gradually been able to peel away the layers of encirclement that made it vulnerable – but it took time. Italian police began to rely on both traditional surveillance and more modern digital and telephone intercepts when investigating Mafia networks. These ultimately proved successful.
The end of the Cosa Nostra – or a new era?
Denaro’s arrest may have created a crippling vacuum for the Cosa Nostra – but it’s not the end of the Mafia. Denaro’s collapse could also create an opportunity for it to mutate, change and adapt to new business opportunities once again, like a snake shedding its skin. I believe this arrest marks a change in the leadership of the Cosa Nostra. It could be that Denaro was no longer relevant or necessary. It may have outlived its usefulness. A new generation will already be in place to manage the Cosa Nostra.
Many may now declare the Cosa Nostra dead. Obviously, it is not as strong as Italy’s other main organized crime gangs – the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta and the Neapolitan Camorra, but it is not over either. Even after the fall of Denaro, the Cosa Nostra would continue to operate and continue to be a headache for the Italian economy and the economies of many other European countries. Therefore, the Italian State and European countries must continue their fight against the mafia and organized crime groups and never let their security down.
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