Inside barbaric life of mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Matteo Messina Denaro who boasted ‘I’ve filled a cemetery by myself’ – The Sun | The Sun

Inside barbaric life of mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Matteo Messina Denaro who boasted ‘I’ve filled a cemetery by myself’ – The Sun | The Sun

A FAST-living playboy with an appetite for supercars and gorgeous women, Matteo Messina Denaro knew how to stand out from the crowd.

Yet for 30 years, the man often called the Sicilian mafia’s ‘boss of bosses’ has somehow evaded a frenzied manhunt – once joining El Chapo and the successor to Osama Bin Laden in the list of the world’s 10 most wanted fugitives.

Denaro, who fronted up the notorious "Cosa Nostra" group, was today seized by cops during a visit to a private medical clinic in Sicily's largest city Palermo, where he was reportedly being treated for cancer.

Cops have now released a mugshot of the 60-year-old, also known as "Diabolik" or "The Skinny One".

The crook – said to have been involved with the murder of a child strangled to death and dissolved in acid – has been linked to over 50 murders, and chillingly once boasted: “I’ve filled a cemetery all by myself.”

A notorious womaniser, Denaro is thought to had a hareem of lovers and left a string of illegitimate children behind.

So how did he slip through the net for so long – all the while controlling a global criminal syndicate worth £115billion?

Strangled pregnant woman to death

Born into the Italian underworld, Denaro built his notorious criminal name through a series of ever-more extreme murders and atrocities.

The son of the influential mafia 'capo' (captain) Francesco Messina Denaro, he quickly rose through the ranks of the Sicilian Mafia – also known as the Cosa Nostra – learning to use a gun at 14 and committing his first murder at 18.

The Armani-flaunting womaniser's love life proved as deadly as his day job.

One of his earliest victims was not a gangster, but a hotel boss who objected to his affair with a receptionist.

His hits for the mob were even darker.

In 1993, after reportedly executing rival boss Vincenzo Milazzo, he turned his attention to Milazzo's pregnant girlfriend and strangled her to death.

He is also believed to be involved in the abduction and murder of 12-year-old Giuseppe di Matteo.

The mafia abducted him and held him captive for two years in a bid to stop his father testifying.

The helpless child was eventually choked to death and disposed of in an acid bath.

When a bitter war erupted between the Cosa Nostra and state over stricter prison rules for convicted gangsters, Denaro emerged as one of its deadliest frontline soldiers.

First, he is said to have kept tabs on Giovanni Falcone, a passionately anti-mafia judge whose car was bombed in 1992.

Alongside brutal hitman Giovanni Brusca – who boasted of single-handedly committing up to 200 murders – he is accused of carrying out a horrific bombing campaign across Florence, Milan and Rome.

Ten were killed and 93 injured during the attacks on some of Italy’s most historic monuments – and Denaro was forced into hiding. He now faces a life sentence for his role.

Killer on the run

Life underground didn’t hinder Denaro’s rising prospects.

After the reigning ‘boss of bosses’ Leoluca Bagarella was arrested in the aftermath of the bombings, new boss Bernardo Provenzano took the young prodigy under his wing, increasingly referring to him as his ‘nephew’.

Despite often being described as the ‘last Mohican of the old mafia’, Denaro has been credited with bringing the syndicate into the modern day.

Uniting the historically scattered clans around the city of Trapiani, he established fresh connections with Columbia's rampant cocaine cartels.

Much like his counterpart Pablo Escobar, he envisioned himself as a folk hero to the city’s residents as business boomed.

"What you hear all the time in town, and on blogs, is how the mafia gives work and the government takes it away," Francesco Garofalo, a member of anti-mafia group Libera, told the Guardian.

"There are people here who would like to see Messina Denaro appointed mayor."

Among some of the Mafia’s oldest members, however, his rampant affairs – which saw him father a daughter in 1995 – raised eyebrows.

Avoiding phones or the internet, Denaro communicated chiefly through handwritten notes known as 'pizzini', moving from house to house through a swelling network of loyal followers and adoring citizens.

When Provenzano’s 43 years on the run came to an end with his arrest in 2006, Denaro was widely tipped as his successor.

Provenzano’s death in 2016, followed by that of influential godfather Toto Riina the next year, cemented his position at the very top of the Cosa Nostra.

£2.5billion ghost

Hot on Denaro’s tail was an elite team of Mafia hunters called the Catturandi, who have snared some of Italy’s biggest crime bosses.

In 2017, the net tightened as 200 officers searched caverns and bunkers around Castelvetrano – believing he was living a Bin Laden-esque fugitive lifestyle below ground.

Yet with every manhunt, he remained a ghost – until now.

Astonishing video today shows crowds applauding and cheering the Carabinieri police in the streets of Palermo following Denaro's arrest.

After three decades, they have finally got their man.

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