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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Lydia Veljanovski

World's most infamous fugitives on the run for YEARS just like Mafia boss Messina Denaro

Matteo Messina Denaro, known as the last Godfather of the Sicilian Mafia, was arrested in Sicily on Monday after 30 years on the run.

The 60-year-old is not the only notorious criminal who managed to evade the authorities for decades.

Here we take a look at the most famous fugitives in recent history...

46 years: Larry Pusateri - shot a cop


During a medical examination at a hospital in Colorado in 1974, Pusateri made his escape from incarceration.

He was doing time for shooting and wounding police officer Daril Cinquanta in Denver three years earlier.

In 2020 Pusateri, then aged 77, was caught by authorities living in the quiet town of Espanola, New Mexico, under the alias Ramon C. Montoya.

A drunk driving charge from 2011 provided the FBI with a photo that ultimately led to his arrest.

56 years: Frank Freshwaters - manslaughter


“Shawshank Fugitive” Frank Freshwaters killed a man when speeding in his car in the US in 1957.

He was jailed to 20 years at Ohio State Reformatory, made famous in film The Shawshank Redemption.

He fled aged 23 in 1959 but was held in 2015. He was freed on parole in 2016.

37 years: Ronnie Biggs - great train robber


The Great Train Robbery of 1963 netted nearly £60million in today’s money, and Biggs was given 30 years in Wandsworth Prison for his role.

He escaped in 1965 and spent 37 years as a fugitive abroad.

In 2001 he returned to serve his sentence, but was released in 2009 due to ill health.

He died four years later, aged 84.

19 years: Donald Eugene Webb - cop killer


New England mobster Webb was actually missing for 37 years before his fate became known.

He went on the run after police chief Greg Adams was killed during a traffic stop in 1980.

However, it took until 2018 for his widow Lillian to tell authorities that Webb had died in 1999.

The gangster had spent 19 years hiding in concealed basements in two different houses.

Lillian buried him in the backyard after he died of a stroke.

24 years: John Ruffo - $350m fraudster


New Yorker Ruffo, 68, was convicted in 1998 for a scheme in which he defrauded US and foreign banks out of a staggering $350million.

He had a $10m bail as he was viewed as a flight risk but he never showed up to serve his term.

Ruffo’s car was found abandoned at JFK Airport and he was never seen again.

The US Marshals Service is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to his capture.

68 years: John Patrick Hannan - theft and assault


The record for the longest escape from prison custody belongs to Hannan, now 90.

In December 1955, he escaped Verne Prison, left, off the coast of Dorset, where he was being held for 21 months for stealing a car and assaulting two police officers.

He’s been on the run for nearly 70 years.

The shortest time on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list was two hours by Billy Austin Bryant who had killed two agents in 1969.

43 years: Assata Shakur - killed state trooper


Godmother to rapper Tupac, the revolutionary, now 75, was in the Black Liberation Army, a paramilitary group active in the US during the 70s.

In 1977 Shakur was jailed for murdering a state trooper in a shoot out.

She was sprung from a New Jersey prison by the BLA in 1979, fled to Cuba and was never recaptured.

40 years: Víctor Manuel Gerena - armed robber


As he stuffed $7million into the boot of his car and sped away in 1983, Gerena pulled off the largest cash robbery in US history at that time.

The bank raid in Connecticut, US, saw him put on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List a year later, where he stayed until 2016 – the longest a fugitive has spent on there.

Still at large, and thought to be in Cuba, the FBI are offering $1m for information leading to his capture.

9 years: Sarah Panitz - £1bn fraud


Dubbed “Britain’s most wanted woman”, Panitzke, was arrested last year, aged 47, after nearly a decade on the run.

The fraudster from Fulford, near York, went missing in 2013 while on trial for her role in a mobile phone tax scam worth £1billion.

She fled to Tarragona, Spain, where she was finally caught when out walking her dog, and extradited to Britain to spend eight years in prison.

29 years: Norberto Gonzalez Claudio - armed robber

Claudio helped Gerena carry out the 1983 robbery as part of Los Macheteros, a militant independence group which is loosely translated as Machete Wielders.

Unlike Gerena, Claudio was arrested in 2011 in Cayey, Puerto Rico, as he took a morning jog.

Then 65, he was living under a fake name in a modest home.

16 years: Whitey Bulger - racketeering


Irish-American crime boss Bulger led the Winter Hill Gang based in Boston.

In 1994 he went into hiding after he was informed of an impending racketeering (RICO) charge.

Bulger was finally arrested in California in 2011 aged 81, and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus five years.

He died in jail in 2018.

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