Italy’s second most wanted gangster arrives in Rome after 28 years on the run | Italy
A convicted mobster who was one of Italy‘s most wanted fugitives and reputedly one of the most powerful drug brokers in the world, has arrived in Rome, after his extradition from Brazil after 28 years on the run.
Rocco Morabito held second place on the list of the most wanted and dangerous gangsters in Italy. He was convicted two decades ago in absentia of drug trafficking as part of the organized crime syndicate ‘Ndrangheta, which makes billions of euros in the cocaine trade.
Italian police describe him as one of the best drug traffickers in the world. Morabito, 55, is to serve a 30-year prison sentence after being convicted in absentia by a Milan court in 2001.
He was arrested in May 2021 by Brazilian police in a joint operation with Italian and American investigators. Morabito was previously arrested in Uruguay in 2017, but escaped from prison two years later.
Italian police have been looking for him since 1994.
Calabria-based anti-Mafia prosecutors say Morabito played a significant role in smuggling cocaine from South America to Milan, a key distribution point for the drug to be sold elsewhere in Italy and across Europe .
Besides drug trafficking, Morabito was convicted in Italy for mafia association.
When he was captured in 2017 in Uruguay, Morabito was living in a luxury villa in a resort town using an alias and a fake Brazilian passport, authorities said at the time. During his arrest at a hotel in Montevideo, police also seized a 9mm pistol, 13 mobile phones and a stash of cash, as well as a Mercedes coupe.
Matteo Messina Denaro, still number 1 on Italy’s most wanted mafia bosses list, is believed to still hold supreme power at Cosa Nostra in Sicily, despite having been a fugitive since 1993.
In recent decades, the ‘Ndrangheta has eclipsed the Sicilian Mafia in power and scope, spreading its branches across much of Europe as it launders cocaine proceeds by infiltrating or taking over legitimate businesses like restaurants and hotels, according to surveys.
A small army of defectors helped prosecutors put many Cosa Nostra bosses behind bars for life. The ‘Ndrangheta, built around strong family ties, was less affected by the devastating betrayals of criminal clan loyalties.