ROME Italy: After 28 years on the run, one of Italy’s most-wanted fugitives and one of the world’s most powerful drug brokers, Rocco Morabito was returned to Rome this week after being extradited by Brazil.
Morabito, 55, a member of the ‘Ndrangheta’ organized crime syndicate, who held the second leading position on Italy’s most wanted list, was convicted in absentia of drug trafficking two decades ago.
Italian police have been searching for Morabito since 1994.
After being convicted in a court in Milan in 2001 and his arrest in May 2021 by Brazilian police in a joint operation with Italian and U.S. investigators, Morabito must serve a 30-year prison sentence in Italy.
Morabito was arrested in Uruguay in 2017, but escaped from prison two years later.
In addition to drug trafficking, he was convicted in Italy of being a member of the mafia.
When he was captured in 2017 in Uruguay, he was living in a luxury villa in a seaside resort using an alias and a false Brazilian passport, authorities said.
In recent decades, the Ndrangheta has eclipsed the Sicilian Mafia, the Cosa Nostra, in power and scope, spreading throughout much of Europe and being involved in money laundering and drug smuggling, by infiltrating or buying legitimate businesses, such as restaurants and hotels, according to investigators.