Italian police on Monday arrested 19 mafia suspects in Sicily, including the brother of Cosa Nostra's alleged "boss of bosses," Matteo Messina Denaro.
Over 200 police were deployed in morning raids in and around the western Sicilian town of Trapani in what officials said was an operation targeting some of the fugitive Messina Denaro's closest associates, DPA reported.
"What was identified and dismantled was to all intents and purposes a 'postal service'" police official Vincenzo Nicoli told television channel Sky TG24.
Those arrested, including Messina Denaro's brother, Salvatore, are believed to have run a network distributed "pizzini" or small written messages containing their boss' orders.
They face a range of charges including belonging to a mafia organization, extortion and fraud.
Portrayed in the Italian media as a flamboyant character, with expensive tastes in cars and clothes, the 47-year old Messina Denaro has been on the run since 1993.
He is believed to have occupied the top position in Cosa Nostra's ruling "cupola" commission since the arrest of former kingpin, Bernardo Provenzano in 2006, and that of his successor Salvatore Lo Piccolo in 2007.