Monday, Italian police in Sicily apprehended the man whose identity was used by a convicted Mafia boss who became Italy’s most wanted fugitive after 30 years on the run, according to authorities.
Andrea Bonafede was arrested on a warrant issued by the court authorities in Palermo, according to the Carabinieri police. Investigators assert that Bonafede received 20,000 euros from Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro to purchase a home in western Sicily that functioned as one of the fugitive’s hiding places.
Messina Denaro was apprehended last week at a Palermo clinic where he was having chemotherapy with an official identification card with Bonafede’s name but his own photograph. During the arrest, police also detained the man who drove the suspect to the clinic.
Matteo Messina Denaro (right), one of the most sought mafia bosses, was captured by Italian security authorities on January 16, 2023, in Palermo, Italy. Carabinieri Italian Gendarmerie Press Service/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty
People shouted and hailed the police, according to eyewitnesses, when they understood that security personnel had caught the notorious criminal.
The police have investigated at least three properties in Campobello di Mazara, a town in western Sicily near Trapani, which they think Messina Denaro has been using as hiding places for the past few months. Bonafede purchased one of these residences, according to investigators.
The arrest warrant for Bonafede was issued by Judge Alfredo Montalto, who stated that Bonafede was suspected of being a member of Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia, and of aiding Messina Denaro in his capacity as a prominent mob boss.
Thanks to Bonafede allowing Messina Denaro to use his identity, the fugitive was “able to move on the territory (of Italy), eluding law enforcement, and to access National Health Care without revealing his true identity,” according to the warrant’s claims.
The fugitive received cancer treatment at the Palermo facility as an outpatient registered as Andrea Bonafede, according to the authorities.
While Messina Denaro was on the run, he was found guilty of numerous of the most horrific Mafia offenses and given multiple life terms. He was convicted of being one of the masterminds of the 1992 bombings that shook Italy. One of the attacks murdered Italy’s top anti-Mafia magistrate along a highway outside Palermo, and the other killed a fellow magistrate two months later. Additionally, Falcone’s wife and the bodyguards of both magistrates were slain in these blasts.
Bonafede was caught after nightfall in a small town just outside of Campobello di Mazara, according to Carabinieri camera footage.
Authorities also discovered plane ticket receipts indicating Messina Denaro had visited overseas, receipts from upscale restaurants, jewelry, and movie posters, including “The Godfather” and “Joker.” during their searches of three properties supposedly inhabited by Messina Denaro.
A few days after the capture of the fugitive on January 16, police discovered in a private parking lot in Campobello di Mazara a black Alfa Romeo Giulietta sedan containing Bonafede’s identification documents, according to the arrest warrant for Bonafede.
Investigators assert that the fugitive purchased a used vehicle from a dealership in Palermo, indicating that the convicted gangster believed he would not be recognized in Sicily’s largest city.
The parking place allegedly belongs to the kid of the culprit who was apprehended after driving Messina Denaro to his doctor’s appointment.
According to investigators, Messina Denaro could rely on a network of accomplices from his power base in western Sicily to assist with logistics.
Messina Denaro was flown to a maximum security jail in central Italy hours after his arrest to begin serving his terms.
Messina Denaro was regarded as “Mafia nobility”; he was the last of three senior mafia leaders, the others being the renowned Salvatore “Toto” Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, both of whom evaded capture for decades and continued to live in secrecy in Sicily.
Before his arrest in 1993, Riina, the so-called “boss of bosses,” had been on the run for 23 years. Provenzano evaded capture for 38 years and was finally apprehended in 2006.
This report was supplied by Anna Matranga.