Sicilian Mafia leader Messina Denaro (pictured) has died at the age of 61 after a battle with cancer.
End of line
Like something out of a Martin Scorsese movie, Sicilian Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro had been on the run for 30 years before his recent capture. As you mentioned BBCDenaro – long considered Italy’s most wanted man – has now died after a battle with cancer.
He once bragged that he was able to “fill the graveyard” with his victims
Among his many crimes, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in 2002, Denaro killed two well-known anti-Mafia prosecutors. In fact, he once bragged that he was able to “fill the graveyard” with his victims.
Despite being on the run for three decades, Denaro supposedly continued to run the Cosa Nostra organized crime syndicate from various secret locations. The Sicilian Mafia is involved in many illegal activities, including extortion, drug trafficking, and illegal bookmaking.
In order for Cosa Nostra to benefit financially from all its illegal operations, it needed a way to launder money. Here’s how Denaro’s organization uses Malta-based online gaming companies to do just that, while making lots of money along the way.
Operation game over
Police began uncovering Cosa Nostra’s illegal gambling scam in 2018, launching an operation dubbed “Game Over” in an attempt to thwart the operation.
It started in February of that year when Palermo police arrested the “betting king” Benedetto Bacchi. The raid – which ended with the arrest of 30 people including Bacchi – revealed a network of 700 illegal betting shops across Italy. However, Bacchi also held management positions in Maltese gaming companies, namely BL Man Limited and Dodoone Limited.
Cosa Nostra will strong-arm Italian betting agencies to market Bacchi platforms
Bacci operated betting shops using iGaming companies licensed in Malta. Cosa Nostra will enlist Italian betting agencies to market Bacchi platforms, which operate illegally without a license in the country. In return, Bacci transferred between 300,000 euros ($319,114) and 800,000 euros ($850,887) to the mafia annually, police said.
All in all, it was a multi-million dollar scheme that made Patchi incredibly wealthy. Before his arrest in 2018, Bacchi acquired a construction company, as well as the former professional footballer’s Villa in Palermo, for €500,000 ($531,872). In the end, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his troubles.
Game process over II
One year after the first crackdown, Maltese and Sicilian police teamed up again in an operation called “Game Over II.” She revealed that Patchi was just the tip of the iceberg.
Palermo police arrested Angelo Riboli and Sergio Moltisanti in November 2021 as part of the second phase of the crackdown. The two Italians lived in Malta where they had iGaming companies registered in their names. They used those companies to obtain online gaming licenses in Malta and launder money for Cosa Nostra.
He made around €14 million ($14.9 million) per month
According to the head of the mobile police force, Rodolfo Roberti, the mafia obtained usernames and passwords to bypass the Italian gaming law, under which gambling on offshore sites is prohibited. They supposedly earned around €14 million ($14.9 million) a month from operating internet cafes where users accessed gaming sites in Malta operated by Riboli and Moltisanti.
Repoli and Moltisanti received thousands to operate their companies, Quantum Leap Ltd and Pinpoint Ltd. The couple were placed under house arrest in 2021 and no update was provided regarding their sentencing.