AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis
Last month, Italian authorities arrested infamous mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, ending a decades-long search for one of the most wanted men in the world. The news was a major win for the new administration of conservative Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and may open the door to investigating a whole slate of organized crime operations previously thought unsolvable.
Messina Denaro was arrested early on the morning of January 17 inside a clinic in the Sicilian capital of Palermo. More than 100 members of the carabinieri, the Italian military police, were involved in the operation. The career criminal, who is believed to be the boss of the notorious Cosa Nostra Mafia, has been connected to dozens of murders and various other crimes and has eluded law enforcement for 30 years. In that time, most Italians had lost hope that the man behind the deadly 1993 bombings in Milan, Florence, and Rome would ever be captured.
One of Messina Denaro’s most vile acts was the 1992 assassination of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, along with a number of police and security officers. Car bombs planted by Cosa Nostra killed both men in explosions that were so powerful they registered on local earthquake monitors.
Falcone’s murder came just two days before he was set to meet with a Russian prosecutor investigating fraud of the Soviet Union’s public finances. According to top-secret documents, for about ten years before the collapse of the USSR, $200 million worth of Soviet currency had subsidized dozens of communist parties throughout Europe. In 1990, the Politburo had allegedly transferred funds to the Italian Communist Party to purchase stakes in leading European companies.
As Falcone explained to a Russian newspaper correspondent at the time, he was investigating a possible connection between the Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Italian Communist Party, and the international mafia, including the Casa Nostra.
The death of Falcone and Borsellino was a major setback in the effort to take down Messina Denaro and Casa Nostra – underscoring the value of incorruptible and determined public servants. The fact that Messina Denaro felt compelled to take such bold action against Falcone and Borsellino is evidence enough that they were closing in on him. However, following their death, it would take more than 30 years to finally capture the crime boss.
It was another twenty years after the assassinations before some leading Italian politicians would even admit that they knew the mafia was behind the attacks, so scared were many in the Italian government of Casa Nostra and other crime syndicates. Renato Altissimo, the former Italian Minister of Industry, revealed years later that Falcone and Borsellino had been investigating bank operations in San Marino just before their deaths. However, no one was courageous enough to follow their lead after the assassinations.
Former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti also admitted a few months before his death that it was the Italian mafia – primarily Casa Nostra – who were laundering Soviet currency and converting it into Euros. That, he said, was the core of Falcone and Borsellino’s investigation.
The investigation even reached across the Atlantic to the United States. In February 1992, Falcone provided FBI Director Louis Freeh with information on the Soviet criminal underworld’s links to an American Mafia boss. Freeh would later attend Falcone’s funeral, which became a national event in Italy.
With Messina Denaro now in custody, authorities may finally have an opportunity to continue Falcone and Borsellino’s broader investigation. While Italian authorities are hopeful that Messina Denaro can help them take down remaining mafia networks in Europe, information he provides may also reveal more about communist involvement in organized crime.
The late Italian magistrate Ferdinando Imposimato, who co-led the trial of Pope John Paul II’s would-be assassin, reflected that if the West could probe former Nazi criminals, it could apply the same rule for communist crimes. The Soviet criminals who colluded with the mafia should not be easily forgiven, and the West must dig out concealed evidence of this crime, he added.
The arrest of Messina Denaro is cause for celebration for people of goodwill and for the families of victims of the mafia. Finally, the sacrifices of so many who worked to capture Messina Denaro are not in vain.
But it should also energize people in both Italy and around the world to continue to fight for justice. No matter how long it takes, the triumph of good over evil is a prize well worth the effort.
Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.
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Let’s hope so, although this is no news. For the longest time, the ‘Ndrangheta, Calabria’s mafia, has been doing billionaire business mainly with cocaine coming from South America. In 2021 only, it made profits for US $80 Million dollars, 80% of which came from cocaine. The money that comes from cocaine has finaced Communism from Venezuela to Argentina, to Spain.It has been well known that the ‘Ndrangheta has close ties with the Colombian narco terrorist organization FARC, who was scratched off of the terrorist list by President Biden himself, back in November 2021. Alex Saab, a Colombian/Libanese thug who has been supposedly in US custody since 2020, was to reveal big names linked to narco terrorism,money laundering and the like, among them the thugs from El Cartel de los Soles form Venezuela. Nothing has happened.I don’t see how one narcoterrorist arrest is going to make any difference.
hilliary is the first that comes to mind.
Our biggest problem with mafia inside America resides in the White House and throughout the government. The criminal activities of this ideologically driven Cesspool centered in DC has become a serious problem for all citizens.
How much damage is done? What is the real debts of this country?
Organized crime? Look no further than the current administration. Of course the rule of law doesn’t apply to them as evidenced by their lawlessness. Dems are definitely well organized.
It was, and still is a big shock to me as a Colombian born and American citizen that President Biden back in 2021 scratched off the terrorist list the Colombian narco terrorist organization FARC. I have no answer for this monstruosity.FARC continues to kidnapp, torture and murder citizens, and now more than ever the cocaine trade is thriving.
It all comes down to the rule of Law and justice. If we cannot protect our borders, local businesses, simple crimes of drugs, littering, graffiti… how will we ever rid our nations of these parasites?
Leave Palermo and move to DC Security and prosperity guaranteed
Rerun the 1970s & the 80s NY crime cases
I completely agree with this author.
Yes, Communist crimes must be investigated and punished with the same energy as those committed by the German Nazis.
It is time to oblige publishers to place a label on the books promoting Communism and socialism: “Application of these ideas led to the death of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.”
It is a great article.
Add child perversion to your lists
Ben always turns his columns into food for thought. I enjoy AMAC, but I look forward, particularly, to Ben’s view of fundamental issues.
I remember these attacks on the Italian judges. I also remember Judge Falcone’s visit to the U.S.
It was either Insight or Washington Times that published an interview with him.
At that time, we discussed the criminal world in the Soviet union since many of us were concerned that Bush’s and Clinton’s aid would get into the mafia. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several good books were published on this matter.
Ben does it say it explicitly here, but I see between the lines that he thinks that the current war against Ukraine is connected with these events. I fully agree with him.
Great points and do agree with you…
Yes, I agree, as well.
Ben touched here the tip of an iceberg. Putin grew up in a criminal environment that he later brought to Kremlin. If during Yeltsin, the mafia controlled only some areas of the Russian state, under Putin, their share tripled. Boris Johnson was right when he recently said Ukraine fights a mafia-controlled state.
When I read this article, I thought of Trump’s foolish statement that our tanks in Ukraine would begin a third world war. He should change his advisors. Putin continually sends Russian tanks with the blessing of the Moscow church. Moscow’s top priests in Ukraine applauded Kremlin’s new invasion. Ukraine does not have tanks to defend itself. Hopefully, the U.K. will provide some jets.
Trump does not understand anything if he wants to talk to Putin. As someone who voted for Reagan and has been a Conservative for many decades, I do not wish my President would speak to the war criminal.I wish Putin to talk to the judge at the appropriate War Crimes Tribunal.
Trump should have his statements better prepared. For now, he did not impress me.
Our conservative media discussed such topics more often in the past. Young people do not understand that the central pillar of communist parties was organized crime. Few read Mitrokhin even fewer know what Venona is. Even our Rep statements about Ukraine are not particularly wise.
Current conservative media do not understand the history and can hardly put this tragedy into the Cold War context. Mafia was an instrument of the Soviets, and then it took control over Eastern Europe. With its counter-corruption policies, the EU exposed and, in a sense, resolved the problem of Soviet corruption in the Baltic states, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the rest new members.
Hope they find every Mafia member around the world and put them in prison for life!!!
Mafia destroys democracy’s foundation and our security. I agree with you.
When will America arrest its number one criminal? He’s walking free and clear in the White House.
You are absolutely correct and am like so many others getting sick of weak ‘leaders’ that don’t take action!!
It always seems that evil individuals with big illegal non taxed money can buy goons, politicians,unelected bureaucrats and ignorant or sellouts of their country. The little citizens individuals that have little money they need to use or make time to vote for the local candidates they know and what they stand for.
Good thing he wasn’t captured here in America because he would probably already be out in bail.
Oh come on now, as a minority I’m sure there would be no cash bail charged.