Italy’s most wanted mob boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, has been arrested by police after 30 years on the run.

Messina Denaro is believed to be the boss of the Sicilian mafia Cosa Nostra and has been on the run since 1993.

He was held in a private hospital in Palermo, the Sicilian capital, where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed medical condition.

The 60-year-old was taken to a secret location immediately after his arrest, Italian state television reported.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni thanked the authorities for the arrest and called the operation “a great victory for the state which shows that it never gives up in the face of the mafia”.

Photo: Italian Police/LaPresse/AP
A computer-generated image released by Italian police in 2011, right, and an older photo of Messina Denaro. Photo: Italian Police/LaPresse/AP

Messina Denaro was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his role in the 1992 murders of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

He also faces a life sentence for his role in the bombings in Florence, Rome and Milan that killed 10 people the following year.

Last year police said he was still able to issue orders regarding how the mafia was run in the area of ​​the western Sicilian town of Trapani, his regional stronghold, despite being on the run .

Messina Denaro is also accused of being solely or jointly responsible for numerous other murders in the 1990s.

In 1993, he helped organize the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to dissuade his father from testifying against the Mafia, prosecutors say.

The boy was held captive for two years before being strangled and his body dissolved in acid.

Messina Denaro was the last of three high profile fugitive mafia bosses who had evaded capture for decades.

His arrest comes 30 years and a day after the capture of convicted “boss of bosses” Salvatore “Toto” Riina, who spent 23 years on the run.

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