Italy’s second most wanted mobster has been extradited from Brazil after hiding in South America for decades.
Rocco Morabito, the “cocaine king of Milan,” arrived in Rome on Wednesday after 28 years on the run from the law.
Morabito, 55, was second on the list of Italy’s most wanted and dangerous mobsters and was regarded as one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world. Italian authorities had been looking for him since 1994, and he was convicted in absentia by a Milan court in 2001.
“He was a major architect in the internationalization of the [crime] gangs and became the king of cocaine brokers,” Nicola Morra, the Italian senator who heads the anti-mafia commission, wrote on Facebook.
Morabito was a leading member of the ‘Ndrangheta, which has in recent decades become even more powerful and widespread than the infamous Sicilian mafia, especially in the cocaine business.
The mafia don was finally arrested last year in May, the result of a joint operation by Brazilian and Italian police.
He had been previously arrested in Uruguay in 2017, but Morabito escaped from prison two years later when he and three other inmates climbed through a hole in the roof, evading custody until 2021.
Last year, authorities finally located him again in João Pessoa, a port city in north-eastern Brazil. He had adopted a fake identity with a fake Brazilian passport, going by the name Francisco Capeletto.
Morabito was arrested there along with another ‘Ndrangheta mafia member, Vincenzo Pasquino, who has been sentenced for drug trafficking to the tune of 17 years behind bars.
Morabito will serve 30 years in prison for drug trafficking. He has also been convicted of mafia association.
His extradition to Italy was approved by Brazil’s federal supreme court last week.
Morabito rose to prominence as a young mafia associate by forging what are now major cocaine smuggling routes from South America to Milan. He was eventually caught on an audio recording attempting to make deals relating to importing more than a ton of cocaine along one of those routes.
In Uruguay, Morabito had lived large, collecting art and sometimes throwing big parties for his friends. Police began tracking him in South America when he registered his daughter at school under her real name.
During his arrest in 2017, police found a 9mm firearm, 13 cell phones, cash, a Mercedes coupe, and 150 photos of Morabito in different disguises that appeared to be meant for passports among his belongings.