ROME, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Rocco Morabito, one of Italy's most wanted fugitives and a drug kingpin, was handed over to the country's authorities early on Wednesday, extradited by Brazil after a long manhunt.
Morabito, 55, would now serve a 30-year jail sentence he received after being declared guilty in absentia in Milan in the 1990s for international drug trafficking and mafia association, Italy's military Carabinieri police said.
Morabito is also known in Italy as "Milan's cocaine king" as he was a key figure in the 'Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate based in the country's Calabria region.
"The person concerned, considered one of the top international drug traffickers, was in the list of most dangerous fugitives and was included in the Interior Ministry's Special Research Program," the Carabinieri said.
Morabito was arrested in northeast Brazil in May 2021 as a result of a joint operation of Italian and Brazilian police forces assisted by the Interpol Cooperation Against 'Ndrangheta (I-CAN) project, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Last week, Brazil's Supreme Court definitively authorized his extradition to Italy.
The man had been on the run since 1994. He spent over two decades in South America under a fake identity. He was first arrested in Uruguay in 2017, yet less than two years later he escaped with three fellow inmates.
The international police operation tracked him down last year in the Brazilian city of Joao Pessoa. He was arrested along with another key 'Ndrangheta mobster, Vincenzo Pasquino, who is serving a 17-year jail sentence for drug trafficking and mafia association.
For the Italian authorities, the extradition of Morabito marks an important success in the fight against the country's three main mafia groups -- Sicilia's Cosa Nostra, Naples' Camorra and Calabria's 'Ndrangheta.