MONTEVIDEO – A man who fled his native Italy after being convicted 23 years ago on drug trafficking and racketeering charges was arrested in Uruguay for using a false identity, his lawyer told EFE on Monday.
Rocco Morabito, one of Italy’s five most wanted criminals, was detained in Montevideo and is being held pending an expected extradition request from Rome, Uruguayan attorney Alejandro Balbi said.
The knife and the 9mm pistol found in his client’s possession were for personal use and Morabito had a permit for the gun, Balbi said.
Known as the “cocaine king of Milan,” the 50-year-old Morabito is a reputed clan leader within the ‘Ndrangheta, a criminal organization based in Italy’s Calabria region.
Morabito faces a 30-year prison sentence in Italy.
He has been living in Uruguay for roughly 15 years, carrying a Brazilian passport in the name of Francesco Antonio Capeletto Souza.
Though the arrest took place in Montevideo, Morabito resided in a mansion in the coastal resort of Punta del Este along with his wife, an Angolan-born woman using a Portuguese passport, who was also taken into custody.
A search of the Punta del Este residence turned up 13 cellphones and numerous SIM cards, along with 150 passport-sized photos of Morabito in a variety of garb and skin tones.
Morabito’s capture followed six months of investigation by Uruguayan authorities.