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Ruthless mafia boss caught after 30 years on the run had secret lair full of condoms and Viagra

Matteo Messina Denaro who had disguised himself as a woman at one point to avoid capture, had enjoyed a playboy lifestyle during his years on the run

Matteo Messina Denaro

Matteo Messina Denaro is led away© Carabinieri via Getty Images

Italian newspapers with the news of fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro's arrest on January 17© Getty Images

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Italian police who finally caught up with a ruthless mafia boss after 30 years on the run found a secret lair that had been packed full of condoms, Viagra, expensive perfumes, designer clothes and a “well-stocked fridge”.

Cosa Nostra godfather Matteo Messina Denaro, who was snared by the elite Special Operations Group on Tuesday had been hiding out in a luxury flat in the small Sicilian town of Campobello di Mazara.

Investigators discovered the entrance to the bunker was concealed behind a closet full of clothes in the apartment where the 60-year-old had been living for at least six months before his capture.

In a follow up operation, a second hideout was discovered at the back of a wardrobe with a sliding base.

Italian police said jewellery, gemstones and silverware were found in the hidden chamber.

Nicknamed Diabolik or U Siccu (the skinny one), the notorious mobster had been on Italy’s most wanted list for at least 50 murders in the 1990s when mafia hitmen were targetting judges and police chiefs.

The mafia chief who had disguised himself as a woman at one point to avoid capture, had enjoyed a "playboy" lifestyle during his years on the run, with a fleet of luxury cars, a wardrobe full of Versace and Armani suits, and a collection of Rolex watches in his collection.

Matteo Messina Denaro is led away© Carabinieri via Getty Images

Italian police spokesman Fabio Bottino said: “We found expensive clothes, which show he had no money problems, and now we are checking DNA traces and looking for hiding places where he might have stashed documents”.

“Informants have talked of these documents,” he added, “and our job is to find them if they exist.”

It is believed that this “secret archive” of the Sicilian mafia’s “boss of bosses” Totò Riina, who died in 2017, was stolen by Denaro and allegedly contains the secrets of the last 40 years of mafia killings.

Denaro was born in Castelvetrano, Sicily, in 1962. His father was a powerful Cosa Nostra boss and Denaro thrived in the family business, building an illicit multibillion-euro empire in the waste disposal, wind energy and retail sectors.

Denaro rose to prominence within the crime syndicate after murdering rival gang boss Vincenzo Milazzo and strangling his pregnant girlfriend to death.

Throughout his reign as a mafia enforcer, Denaro's brutal crimes which included dissolving a child in acid, as well a deadly bombing campaign, earned him the nickname “Diabolik”.

Italian newspapers with the news of fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro's arrest on January 17© Getty Images

However, his other reputation as a womaniser did not go down well with more conservative mafia chiefs.

The crime boss who once boasted how he filled a cemetery “all by myself, is believed to have been responsible for a string of 1993 bombings in Rome, Florence and Milan that killed 10 people and injured many more.

But after the murders of prominent anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, Denaro went on the run and headed to Greece with his lover Maria Mesi.

In 2002 was sentenced in his absence to life imprisonment for his role in the 1993 bombing campaign.

In an operation reportedly involving up to 100 members of the armed forces, the Italian polices’ elite Special Operations Group dramatically captured the notorious mafia chief in a raid on private clinic in Sicily's capital Palermo where he was receiving treatment for liver cancer.

One doctor at the clinic told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper that Denaro attended appointments wearing Yves St Laurent scarves and shirts worth over €700.

Video of the raid showed members of the public standing in the street and applauding Italian police as the feared gang boss was led away.

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi lauded the capture of "an extremely dangerous fugitive" as "an extraordinary day for the state".

Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni has suggested marking the date of the gangster’s capture, January 16, as a public holiday.


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