Things That Matter

A City Is On Edge After One Of The World’s Most Wanted Men Escapes From A Prison In Central Uruguay

An Italian mafia boss known as the “cocaine king of Milan” has escaped from prison in Uruguay where he was awaiting extradition to Italy. He made a brazen escape from a prison located in the heart of Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital city.

Italian mob boss Rocco Morabito, known as the “Cocaine King of Milan,” escaped from an Uruguayan prison while awaiting extradition to Italy.

A manhunt was underway on Tuesday after an Italian mafia boss led a brazen jailbreak in the center of Uruguay’s capital, infuriating the Italian government that awaited his extradition.

Morabito – dubbed ‘the king of cocaine’ – was one of Italy’s most-wanted men and had been on the run for 23 years.

They made a daring escape through the detention center’s rooftop.

Credit: @USATODAY / Twitter

Rocco Morabito, 52, and three other inmates “escaped through a hole in the roof” of a police detention center in downtown Montevideo late on Sunday, before breaking into a neighboring apartment and exiting onto the street, Uruguay’s interior ministry said in a statement.

Elida Ituarte, a 70-year-old woman who lives in a fifth-floor apartment next to the jail, told AFP news agency she was startled to see four men in her living room at midnight on Sunday.

“What are you doing? Who are you?” she said she shouted. The oldest of the four, apparently Morabito, told her the caretaker had called them to fix a leaking pipe.

“I left the window open. As I live next to the prison, I felt safe and secure,” she said.

When Ituarte found the keys to let them out, the four men ran down the stairs and onto the street.

The jail is known as Montevideo’s Central Prison and is located on a busy street surrounded by apartments, restaurants, and shops.

The Italian government is not happy about the news.

Credit: @MercoPressNews / Twitter

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini reacted angrily to the “disconcerting and serious” news.

“I make two commitments: first to shed full light on how he escaped, asking for an immediate explanation from the Montevideo government. Then we will continue the hunt for Morabito, wherever he is,” Salvini said.

It seems that Morabito had been living in Uruguay for quite a while before his capture.

Morabito, who obtained Uruguayan papers after presenting a false Brazilian passport in the name of Francisco Capeletto, is thought to have arrived in Uruguay in 2002, where he bought a luxurious villa in the southern coastal resort of Punta del Este.

A search of his properties uncovered 13 mobile phones, 12 bank cards, two cars, 150 passport-sized photos of him in various disguises plus a Portuguese passport, a number of jewels, about $50,000 in cash and a 9mm pistol.

Italian authorities blamed the escape on the long wait for extradition.

“It’s bad news,’’ said Nicola Gratteri, the anti-mafia chief prosecutor in the Italian city of Catanzaro. “Things like this can surely happen everywhere. The problem is that this is another side-effect of the long waiting times for the extraditions. It’s time for politicians to discuss new agreements with the South American countries, like the ones the authorities struck with Colombia a few years ago, that means criminals could now be extradited within 48 hours.’’

Morabito has spent nearly two and a half years in jail awaiting the formal extradition request by Italy. He had tried in various ways to evade extradition to Italy and had often insulted the judge at a recent hearing to try to get the proceedings suspended.

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