The Wall Street JournalThe Wall Street Journal

Sicilian mafia’s bloodiest era draws to a close with arrest of old-school boss

By Margherita Stancati

18 Jan 2023 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

Matteo Messina Denaro was the last leading mobster who represented Cosa Nostra. As an Italian prosecutor tells the Journal, his arrest this week is a "historical turning point" for the organization.

ROME—The arrest of Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro marks the end of an era for Cosa Nostra, a once-dominant player in global crime that has largely been forced to retreat to its native island.

Captured this week after 30 years on the run, Mr. Messina Denaro was the last leading mobster who represented Cosa Nostra, as the Sicilian mafia is known in Italy, in its heyday and still lived at large. He played a major role in the crime syndicate in the 1980s and 1990s, when it controlled the trans-Atlantic heroin trade and waged a ruthless campaign against anything that stood in the way, from rival factions to the Italian state.

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