Brazilian police have captured an Italian mob boss known as the “cocaine king of Milan” nearly two years after he escaped from a prison in Uruguay. Rocco Morabito, a leader of the Ndrangheta mafia , has been wanted in Italy since 1994 and is now finally awaiting extradition to Europe after being caught in an operation which involved the American DEA, Interpol, the Brazilian police, and the Italian Carabinieri paramilitary police force.
Cocaine king caught in Brazil
After being wanted for years in his native country, Morabito was arrested in 2017 at a wealthy resort town in southern Uruguay.
While awaiting extradition to Italy Morabito broke out of a Uruguayan prison with three other inmates by climbing through a hole in the roof. The escaped mob boss reportedly robbed a nearby house for cash before vanishing into the streets of Montevideo.
Now, after two years on the run, Morabito has finally been recaptured in the Brazilian city of João Pessoa after being caught in a hotel room with Vincenzo Pasquino, another Italian wanted for involvement in the drug trade.
Italian authorities have moved quickly with their international counterparts to ensure that Morabito, one of the most wanted men in Italy, does not escape extradition a second time.
Rocco Morabito has already been sentenced to thirty years in prison in Italy. Matteo Messino Denaro, another mafioso who has evaded the law for decades, has been sentenced to life in prison and remains the only criminal more highly sought after by authorities than Morabito.
Both men are accused of leading extremely powerful and wealthy criminal syndicates which are based in southern Italy but active internationally.
Calabrian mafia has global reach
Ndrangheta is thought to control about 80% of the cocaine trade in Europe, hence the title of “cocaine king” which Morabito has earned for himself.
The mafia organization has a very long history in the Calabria region of southern Italy, where it has developed a reputation for ruthless violence and a global reach.
The group is potentially the richest criminal organization in the world. Ndrangheta has existed for well over a century but has, in recent decades, taken advantage of a decline in the power of the Sicilian Mafia.
The fact that Morabito was captured in South America is no coincidence; Brazil in particular has become a major center in the international cocaine trade which his organization operates.
Ndrangheta is not only active in Europe and South America, however. This mafia which has terrorized Calabria for decades is believed to have established bases in North America, Australia, and Africa as well.
As for the cocaine king, though, extradition back to Italy appears to be almost certain this time. The international force which captured Morabito is determined to not allow the mob boss to escape again.