Italian 'cocaine king' caught in Uruguay after 23 years

ROME • One of Italy's most wanted mob bosses has been arrested in Uruguay after 23 years on the run from convictions for mafia association, drug trafficking and other serious crimes, the Italian Interior Ministry said yesterday.

Rocco Morabito was considered the most wanted fugitive member of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, Italy's most powerful organised crime group and one of Europe's biggest importers of South American cocaine.

The 50-year-old was arrested in the coastal resort city of Punta del Este after Uruguayan police and the Italian authorities worked together to determine his real identity, the ministry said in a statement.

According to the Uruguayan Interior Ministry, Morabito had been living in Punta del Este for 11 years and was discovered after enrolling his daughter in school under his own name.

A six-month-long investigation found that he had obtained Uruguayan papers after presenting a Brazilian passport in the name of Francisco Capeletto.

After arresting him and his wife, police seized a pistol, 13 mobile telephones, 12 bank cards, two cars, a Portuguese passport, jewels and chequebooks denominated in dollars.

Pending an Italian extradition request, Morabito will be incarcerated in Uruguay for holding false papers and identity theft, the Uruguayan ministry said in its statement yesterday.

Dubbed the "cocaine king of Milan", Morabito had been wanted since 1994 after he was rumbled paying 13 billion lire to import almost a tonne of the drug, Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

An international arrest warrant was issued in 1995 with the aim of tracking down Morabito and extraditing him to Italy, where he has been sentenced to 30 years in jail.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2017, with the headline 'Italian 'cocaine king' caught in Uruguay after 23 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe