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One of Italy’s most wanted fugitives has been arrested in Uruguay after 23 years on the run from convictions for mafia association and drug trafficking.

Rocco Morabito of the ‘Ndrangheta organised crime gang was detained in the resort of Punta del Este.

Uruguayan police said he had been living there for more than 10 years under a false identity.

He was nicknamed “cocaine king of Milan” for his involvement in shipping the drug from South America to Italy.

The ‘Ndrangheta controls much of the world’s cocaine trade and police say Morabito was behind the smuggling of hundreds of kilos of cocaine from Brazil to Italy.

South American hideaway

Morabito is believed to have arrived in Uruguay in 2002.

Police arrested Morabito in a hotel in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo. But officials said he had settled in the resort of Punta del Este with false Brazilian identity papers in the name of Francisco Capeletto.

View of the swimming pool of Rocco Morabito's villa in Punta del EsteImage copyrightURUGUAYAN INTERIOR MINISTRY
Image captionRocco Morabito lived in a villa in the resort of Punta del Este
View of the villa Rocco Morabito lived in in Punta del Este.Image copyrightURUGUAYAN INTERIOR MINISTRY
Image captionHe is believed to have settled there more than 10 years ago

A police search of his properties revealed a 9mm gun, 13 mobile phones and 150 passport-sized photos of Morabito in different guises.

His wife was also detained.

According to his lawyer, Morabito has been leading “a normal life” since 1994 and has not engaged in any criminal activities since then.

He is currently being held in Uruguay for falsifying documents but is expected to be extradited to Italy in the coming months.

Last year, police in Italy found a ‘Ndrangheta mafia boss who had been on the run for 18 years hidden in a bunker in the mountains of Calabria.

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