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Rocco Morabito: Italian mafia boss arrested in Brazil two years after prison break

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Handout file photo taken on September 05, 2017 released by the Uruguayan Interior Ministry on June 24, 2019,
Handout file photo taken on September 05, 2017 released by the Uruguayan Interior Ministry on June 24, 2019,   -   Copyright  HANDOUT/AFP
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An Italian mafia boss and notorious drug smuggler dubbed the "king of cocaine" has been arrested in Brazil two years after breaking out of prison in Uruguay and going on the run.

Rocco Morabito was arrested in the northeastern city of Joao Pessoa along with another Italian who has not been named in a joint operation by Brazilian and Italian police.

In a statement, the Brazilian federal police said that Morabito, 54, had been involved in the trafficking of drugs between Brazil and Italy since the 1990s.

He was the subject of an Interpol red notice for his role between 1988 to 1994 in international drug trafficking, including an attempt to import over 1,000 kilos of cocaine between 1992 and 1993.

In 1995, Morabito was sentenced to 28 years in prison in absentia, which was subsequently increased to 30 years.

He was not arrested until September 2017, having been tracked down to the upscale resort of Punta del Este in Uruguay, where he had lived under a different name for 13 years.

In 2004, he obtained Uruguayan residency using a Brazilian passport in the name of Francisco Capeletto but was found after he enrolled his daughter in college under his real identity.

Uruguayan justice approved his extradition to Italy in 2018, but in June 2019 escaped from Montevideo central prison and had been on the run ever since.

Morabito was nicknamed the "king of cocaine" during his time in Milan in the 1990s. He is originally from the Calabrian village of Africo and was a leader of the Africo Nuovo mafia clan.