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  • Rocco Morabito, waiting to be extradited to Italy, escaped from an Uruguayan prison.

    Rocco Morabito, waiting to be extradited to Italy, escaped from an Uruguayan prison. | Photo: Handout from Italian Police.

Published 25 June 2019

An Italian mafia boss Rocco Morabito, known as the "cocaine king of Milan," broke out of an Uruguayan prison. He was awaiting extradition to Italy. 

A manhunt was organized in Uruguay Tuesday after an Italian mob boss, who had been imprisoned in the country since 2017, escaped from jail overnight as he was waiting to be extradited back to Italy.


Dozens of Mafia Suspects Held in Europe, South American Sting

Rocco Morabito and three other inmates “escaped through a hole in the roof” Sunday, according to authorities. He had been the most wanted fugitive member of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, Italy's most powerful organized crime group and one of Europe's biggest importers of South American cocaine.

Dubbed the "cocaine king of Milan," the 52-year-old Morabito had been arrested after more than two decades on the run from convictions for Mafia association, drug trafficking, and other serious crimes.

Uruguay's interior ministry said in a statement that Morabito and three others had escaped late at night through the roof of the former Carcel Central prison — now called a national rehabilitation center — onto an adjoining building.

Elida Ituarte, a 70-year-old woman who lives next to the prison said the four men landed on her balcony Sunday midnight. According to her, the four men jumped on her balcony from the prison’s wall which was topped with razor wires. However, the wires were clipped in several places when authorities investigated it Monday. 

"I left the window open. As I live next to the prison, I felt safe and secure," she said. When she asked them who they are, the oldest of them said that the building caretaker called them to fix a leaking pipe. 

The men ran down the stairs and onto the street when she let them out of her apartment.  

"It is disconcerting and serious that a criminal like Rocco Morabito, boss of the 'Ndrangheta, managed to escape from a jail in Uruguay while he was waiting to be extradited to Italy," Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said.

"I make two commitments, First: to shed light on evasion procedures, asking for immediate explanations from the Montevideo government. Second: we will continue to hunt down Morabito, wherever he is, to throw him in jail as he deserves."

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