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Wanted mafia fugitive and 'cocaine king' extradited to Italy from Brazil

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By Euronews  with AP
Rocco Morabito was first arrested at a seaside Uruguayan resort in 2017.
Rocco Morabito was first arrested at a seaside Uruguayan resort in 2017.   -   Copyright  Italian Police via AP, File

One of Italy's most wanted mafia members has arrived in Rome from Brazil after more than 27 years on the run.

Rocco Morabito was number two on Italy’s most-wanted list and has been described as one of the world’s most powerful drug brokers.

He was convicted in 2001 in absentia of trafficking cocaine as a member of the ’Ndrangheta organised crime syndicate. Italian police have been searching for the 55-year-old mafia boss since 1994.

Morabito was arrested in May 2021 by Brazilian police in a joint operation with Italian and US investigators.

Calabria-based anti-mafia prosecutors say Morabito played a big role in cocaine trafficking between South America and Milan, a key distribution point for the drug to be sold elsewhere in Italy and across Europe.

He had earlier been detained in Uruguay in 2017 while living in a luxury seaside villa and using a false Brazilian passport. During his arrest, police also seized a 9mm gun, 13 mobile phones, cash, and a Mercedes vehicle.

But Morabito escaped from prison in Uruguay two years later through a hole in the facility's roof.

Rocco Morabito had also escaped arrest in 1994 in Milan, where he was nicknamed the "cocaine king".

In addition to drug trafficking, Morabito has been convicted in Italy of mafia association. He will now serve a 30-year prison sentence after his extradition.