PALERMO, Italy, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- The arrest of 30 people Friday in a massive operation is the closest police have come to capturing the head of the Sicilian mafia, authorities say.
Among those arrested were close relatives of Matteo Messina Denaro, who has been a fugitive since 1993, the ANSA news agency reported.
Alluding to recent arrests of organized crime members, senior police official Mario Parente said, "this is one of the most important operations."
"We have never gotten so close as we are now to Matteo Messina Denaro," he added.
Friday's police operation nabbed the mafia chief's sister, a nephew and three cousins. Police allege the five family members helped run Messina Denaro's criminal activities in the Sicilian city of Trapani and the surrounding area.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said the arrests were critical in isolating Messina Denaro from his finances.