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Italy's 'cocaine king' arrested in Uruguay

September 4, 2017

Uruguayan police have arrested one of Italy's most wanted mafia bosses at a resort city in the South American nation. The "cocaine king of Milan" had been sought for attempting to import one metric ton of cocaine.

File photo of Rocco Morabito
Image: picture-alliance/ROPI/Pod/Fotogramma

Italy's interior ministry on Monday announced that one of the country's most wanted mafia bosses was arrested in Uruguay after more than two decades on the run.

Known as the "cocaine king of Milan," Rocco Morabito was considered the most wanted fugitive member of Italy's most powerful organized crime group, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta.

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Uruguayan police arrested him at a hotel in the resort city of Punta del Este. A six-month-long investigation found that Morabito obtained legal residency papers after presenting authorities with a Brazilian passport. He was going under the name Francisco Capeletto.

According to Uruguay, Morabito had been living Punta del Este for 11 years. Authorities discovered his whereabouts only after he used his real name to enroll his daughter into a private school.

'Important achievement'

Police seized a pistol, 13 mobile telephones, 12 bank cards,two cars, a Portuguese passport, jewels and a checkbook after arresting Morabito and his wife at their Uruguayan residence.

"The (Italian) state's actions against organized crime have attained an important achievement with the arrest … of Rocco Morabito," said Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti.

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Minniti said authorities have sought Morabito since 1995 on charges of belonging to a criminal organization, drug trafficking and other serious crimes.

In 1995, the mafia boss was sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison for attempting to import up to one metric ton (1,000 kilograms, 2,205 pounds) of cocaine to Italy from Brazil in the early 1990s.

sl/rc (Reuters, AFP)