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One of Italy's most wanted mob bosses has been arrested in Uruguay after 23 years on the run from convictions for mafia association, drug trafficking and other serious crimes, the Italian Interior Ministry said on Monday (local time).
Rocco Morabito was considered the most wanted fugitive member of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, Italy's most powerful organised crime group and one of Europe's biggest importers of South American cocaine.
The 50-year-old was arrested in the coastal resort city of Punta del Este after Uruguayan police and Italian authorities worked together to determine his real identity, the ministry said in a statement.
Dubbed the "cocaine king of Milan", Morabito had been wanted since 1994 after he was rumbled paying 13 billion lire ($NZ11.2 million) to import almost a tonne of the drug, Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.
An international arrest warrant was issued in 1995 with the aim of tracking down Morabito and extraditing him to Italy, where he has been sentenced to 30 years in jail.
The arrest ticks one member off the Italian interior ministry's five-strong list of the country's most-wanted organized criminals, on which Morabito had rubbed shoulders with feared Sicilian boss Matteo Messina Denaro.