At least one mystery has been resolved: Matteo Messina Denaro is really the head of Cosa Nostra. He is the last offspring of the bloody generation of the Riinas, Bagarellas, Ruscas, and Provenzanos. All those men who, luckily, are behind bars nowadays, have left their sign in Italy’s history of the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 90’s by bombing, shooting, and killing. The one who sow the seed of doubt on the actual role played by the Trapani superboss in the hierarchy of Sicilian Mafia was the so-called ‘Toto ‘u curto’’, that is ‘‘Toto the shorty’’. Two years ago, intercepted while talking with a fellow-prisoner during the daily walk and boasting about having brought him up among his own people, Riina was lamenting the fact that, despite he was “the only man” able to reconstruct the Mafia Commission, Messina Denaro failed his expectations. As far as Riina knew, he could be “even abroad”.
Those words provoked raised many questions among the investigators, considering how lethally cunning and good at creating confusion Riina was. In fact, the “Ermes” investigation which led yesterday to the arrest of the new Godfather’s 11 praetorians, proves exactly the opposite. “Today, we can prove that Matteo Messina Denaro is the head of Trapani mafia – has explained the head of the central operational service, Renato Cortese – nothing happens without his consent; he is the one who chooses and appoints the other Mafia heads. He has the full managerial power over the territory and is in fully active in Trapani”. Exactly, Trapani is the new capital of Cosa Nostra, the heart of its illegal activities. More than Palermo, where the Piovras have reached higher, ‘‘bourgeois’’ levels and have been able to hide their ferocious face behind colossal affairs. This is the kingdom of the super-absconding boss, one of the most sought-after criminals in the world who became a king after Bernardo Provenzano’s arrest.
His ascent starts in Castelvetrano, the village in which he was born on April 26, 1962. The one who teaches him “the profession” is the father, Francesco, the leader of the local clan. With him Matteo works, at least officially, as a farm manager at the D’Ali Staiti’s estate who are the owners of the Sicula Bank and of the Trapani and Marsala salt marshes. At the age of 27 he is denounced for Triad activities. Two years later, in 1991, he becomes responsible for the assassination of Nicholas Consales, the owner of a hotel in Triscina where works Messina Denaro’s lover. Consales complained to the woman about the nuisance of being constantly surrounded by ‘‘crooks’’. In 1992 he becomes part of the fire group sent to Rome in order to track Maurizio Costanzo, to eliminate the Judge Giovanni Falcone and the Minister of Justice Claudio Martelli.
After the arrest of Riina “u Siccu” – “the lean”, this is the nickname of the Trapani boss – he begins to work for Leoluca Bagarella, Giovanni Brusca, and the brothers Graviano, actively participating in the organization of the bomb season that shocks Rome, Florence and Milan and cause 10 deaths and 106 injured. During the same year he plans with other Mafiosi the kidnapping of the little Giuseppe Di Matteo’s. The boy is the son of the justice collaborator Santino. He will be strangled and dissolved in acid at the age of 15 years, after 779 days of captivity. Messina Denaro’s last documented appearance dates back to 1993 in Forte dei Marmi where he spends his holidays together with the Gravianos. He is 31-years old and already boasts the curriculum of an expert butcher: Triad activities, carnage, destruction, murder, imprisonment, transport of explosive material, and other minor crimes. Those crimes are regularly added to the arrest warrant issued against the boss, but are unable to reach him. Because Messina Denaro disappears as if he never existed.
On the other hand, absconding is inscribed in his DNA. His father, Francesco, died a free man in 1998, after a life spent hiding. And this is what “u Siccu” does today: he sends his messages through a network of loyal men. Mostly, he uses the so-called ‘‘pizzini’’, small slips of paper that the Sicilian Mafia uses for high-level communications, but he does not disdain new technologies either, especially when the problem is urgent. Years ago his sister contacted him via Skype to ask if the magnate Giuseppe Grigoli had to be killed and he denied his consent to the assassination. Scrappy data about a ghost in the air above Sicily, but from yesterday it is a little more visible. Matteo Messina Denaro’s absconding is much more difficult now”, comment with satisfaction Rosy Bindi, the president of the Antimafia Commission. It is a step forward in the fight against a cancer that has been eating up the South for too many years. And drowning in blood every hope for legality and justice.
Translated by Ecaterina Severin