Rocco Morabito
Rocco Morabito Image Credit: AFP

Brasmlia: Italian mob boss Rocco Morabito was arrested on Monday in the northeast of Brazil, police said, almost two years after his escape from a prison in Uruguay where he was awaiting extradition to Italy.

Morabito, considered a leader of the 'Ndrangheta group, was captured in the city of Joao Pessoa along with another Italian "outlaw" as a result of a joint investigation with Italy, Brazil's federal police said in a statement.

Morabito, wanted in Italy on charges of drug trafficking, has been on the run since 1995.

Dubbed "the king of cocaine," he was one of Italy's most wanted men when he was arrested in a Montevideo hotel in September 2017.

By then, he had lived for 13 years under a fake identity in the Uruguayan resort town of Punta del Este.

He had been sentenced in his absence to 28 years' imprisonment by an Italian court, a sentence later increased to 30 years.

In June 2019, Uruguay's interior ministry announced Morabito and three other inmates had escaped through a hole in the roof of their prison in the capital Montevideo, setting off a massive manhunt and causing Uruguay's prison chief to resign.

Italy's much-feared 'Ndrangheta mafia is thought to run much of Europe's cocaine trade from Calabria.

It is also involved in arms trafficking, prostitution and extortion.