Saturday 20 July 2019

Italian mobster Morabito escapes from Uruguayan prison

Rocco Morabito and three other inmates got out ‘through the roof’ of a prison in Montevideo.

Rocco Morabito (Italian Police via AP)
Rocco Morabito (Italian Police via AP)

By Leonardo Haberkorn, Associated Press

A top Italian organised crime boss has escaped from the Uruguayan prison where he was awaiting extradition to Italy, Uruguay’s interior ministry said.

Rocco Morabito and three other inmates got out “through the roof” of a prison in Montevideo at around midnight before making their way “through a neighbouring farm and robbing its owner”, a ministry statement said.

Morabito has been on the run from Italy since 1994 and has been sentenced there to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking.

It's disconcerting and serious that a criminal like Rocco Morabito... has managed to escape from an Uruguay prison while waiting to be extradited to Italy Matteo Salvini

Italian prosecutors say the 52-year-old played a large role in operations between South America and Milan, which is a distribution point for illegal drugs.

He has also been described as a key figure in the Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta mob, one of the world’s biggest movers of cocaine.

“It’s disconcerting and serious that a criminal like Rocco Morabito, a boss of ‘Ndrangheta, has managed to escape from an Uruguay prison while waiting to be extradited to Italy,” Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini said on Twitter.

“I’m making two pledges: shedding full light on the escape, asking for immediate explanations from the Montevideo government, and chasing Morabito, wherever he is, to throw him in prison as he deserves.”

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The Carcel Central de Montevideo prison (Matilde Campodonico/AP)

Morabito was arrested in 2017 at a hotel in the Uruguayan capital, although he had been living in a villa with its own swimming pool in the seaside city of Punta del Este.

At the time, Uruguayan police confiscated a 9mm gun, 13 mobile phones and 54,000 dollars in cash as well as a luxury Mercedes car. He had been living under an alias for about a decade and using a false Brazilian passport.

The other three men who escaped have been identified as Leonardo Abel Sinopoli Azcoaga, who had been detained for robbery and falsifying documents and is wanted by Brazil, Matías Sebastian Acosta Gonzalez, who was awaiting extradition to Brazil, and Bruno Ezequiel Diaz, who had been detained for homicide after a request by Argentina.

Uruguay police released photos of the four fugitives and asked for the public’s help to find them.

PA Media

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