Matteo Messina Denaro, a mafia boss who had eluded the authorities for three decades and was convicted in absentia of murder and other offenses, was arrested by the Italian police on Monday, making him possibly the most wanted fugitive in the country.
Pasquale Angelosanto, a general with the Italian national police, said in a statement that Mr. Messina Denaro, 60, was arrested in a hospital in Palermo, Sicily, where he was receiving treatment.
The arrest of the “most significant representative of mafia syndicates” was hailed as a “great victory for the state that shows it never gives up in the face of the mafia” by Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy.
Mr. Messina Denaro was thought to be Salvatore Riina’s son.
Riina was known as the “boss of bosses” and was the one who brutally killed prosecutors and police officers in Italy in the 1990s. In 1993, Mr. Riina was also taken into custody in Palermo, and he was imprisoned for the rest of his life. 2017 saw his passing.
It is believed that Mr. Messina Denaro maintained power even while he was hiding. For his involvement in the 1992 murders of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two anti-mafia prosecutors, and the 1993 bombings that killed ten people in Florence, Milan, and Rome, he received a life sentence in absentia.
In the 1990s, it is thought that Mafia Boss Mr. Messina Denaro was involved in dozens of murders.
After Mr. Messina Denaro went underground in June 1993, the police tried several times to catch him, but a network of collaborators in Sicily, especially in the western Trapani region, helped him avoid arrest.
During Mr. Messina Denaro’s detention, bystanders outside a private clinic in northern Palermo applauded police officers as they drove away, their faces obscured by hoods.
Public by world news spot live