Italy jails notorious mafia boss’s sister who handled coded messages for mobsters

An Italian court on Thursday sentenced the sister of Sicilian crime boss Matteo Messina Denaro to 14 years in prison for mafia association, Italian media reported. Rosalia Messina Denaro was arrested in 2023 on suspicions that she played a key role in the mob led by her brother.

The 69-year-old, also the wife of jailed mafioso Filippo Guttadauro, unintentionally helped police locate her fugitive brother, thanks to a scribbled note she had hidden in the hollow rail of a chair at her residence. Officers photographed the note, which initially seemed like a jumble of words, signs and letters, and replaced it where it was found, the BBC reported.

The note also revealed key details about his health condition.

Matteo Messina Denaro was one of the most ruthless bosses in Cosa Nostra, the real-life Sicilian crime syndicate depicted in „The Godfather“ movies.

Investigators had been combing the Sicilian countryside for the mafia boss for years, searching for hideouts and wiretapping members of his family and his friends.

It was his decision to seek treatment for his cancer that led to his arrest in January 2023, when he visited a health clinic in Palermo.

He died at the inmates‘ ward of L’Aquila hospital a few months later. 

Relatives wait for the coffin of mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro outside the cemetery of Castelvetrano, Sicily, prior the burial, on Sept. 27, 2023. 


Rosalia, Denaro’s confidante and „alter-ego,“ was the only family member to know about her brother’s cancer diagnosis before he died.

Investigators believed Rosalia played a major operational role in the merciless Cosa Nostra, particularly in the last few years of her brother’s run.

She was suspected of managing the clan’s finances and the so-called pizzini network — coded messages scrawled on pieces of paper to secure communications between the mobster and his gang members.

Rosalia is the mother of Lorenza Guttadauro, a lawyer who defended her mob boss uncle upon his arrest.

„Mafia nobility“  

Matteo Messina Denaro was convicted of involvement in the murder of anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992 and in deadly bombings in Rome, Florence and Milan in 1993.

One of his six life sentences was for the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the 12-year-old son of a witness in the Falcone case.

He disappeared in the summer of 1993 and spent the next 30 years on the run as the Italian state cracked down on the Sicilian mob. When he was finally captured, eyewitnesses said that when passers-by realized that security forces had apprehended the notorious crime figure, people cheered and applauded the police.

Italian mafia leader Matteo Messina Denaro (right), one of the most wanted mafia bosses, after he was arrested by Italian security forces in Palermo, Italy, Jan. 16, 2023.

Italian Gendarmerie (Carabinieri) Press Service/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

He was considered „Mafia nobility“ — the last of three top mafia bosses, the others being the notorious Salvatore „Toto'“ Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, both of whom also eluded capture for decades, continuing to live clandestine lives in Sicily.

Riina, the so-called „boss of bosses,“ was on the run for 23 years before his arrest in 1993. Provenzano spent 38 years as a fugitive and was finally captured in 2006.   

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