F1 Fan Mistaken For Mafia Boss, Arrested During Dutch GP Weekend

Mark L. was there for a race, but he found himself in jail instead.

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Photo: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP (Getty Images)

When Mark L., a 54-year-old man from Liverpool, decided to head to the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, it was likely that he didn’t have “getting arrested” on his list of things to do. And yet that’s exactly what happened, because Mark was blindfolded at dinner, arrested, and led to The Hague, the BBC reports.

See, officials thought Mark was Matteo Messina Denaro, a Sicilian crime lord who has been on the run since 1993. Denaro has been wanted since then for a series of bombings that killed 10 people and injured 93 others. Denaro is the kind of guy who once boasted about being able to “fill a cemetery” with the bodies of his victims and is considered the capo di tutti capi, or the boss of all bosses in the Sicilian mafia. Basically: not the kind of guy you want to mess with.


Here’s a little more from the BBC:

Mark L had been eating at a restaurant with his son when police burst in, carrying a European Arrest Warrant issued by the Italian authorities.

His lawyer Leon van Kleef said it was “like a bad movie, a nightmare that my client has found himself in.”

He continued: “Imagine one moment you are having a bite to eat and the next you are sat in a maximum-­security Dutch prison.”

He said his client “had anger and disbelief and laughter because it is ludicrous.”

“He is a normal Formula One fan. I was always convinced he was not [Denaro].

“It would have been a genius of an Italian to have such a strong Liverpool accent.”


Thankfully for Mark, he didn’t spend long in custody. Because of the unique circumstances, the investigation into his identity was expedited, and the public prosecutor issued a release order that same evening.

The BBC doesn’t offer many details about poor Mark, which is entirely fair considering the strange circumstances. But I have to say, it is just a little amusing to think that, after almost 30 years on the lam, Denaro would make his first public appearance at the Formula One Dutch Grand Prix.