Marital row exposes fugitive mafia boss in Uruguay

A worker from Uruguay's water utility, OSE, leaves a service cut-off notice at the home of Italian mafia boss Rocco Morabito in the Uruguayan resort town of Punta del Este, on September 5, 2017. Rocco Morabito of the 'Ndrangheta mafia was arrested on September 4, 2017 at a luxury hotel in Montevideo, Uruguay after 23 years on the run. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2017
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Marital row exposes fugitive mafia boss in Uruguay

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay: Fugitive Italian mafia boss Rocco Morabito had split from his wife and was searching for a new apartment when he was arrested by Uruguayan police, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Morabito, dubbed in Italian media reports as the one-time “king of cocaine” in Milan, was arrested at a hotel in downtown Montevideo in a dawn raid by police on Saturday.
He had taken a room in the hotel while he looked for new lodgings in the Uruguayan capital after he had fought with his wife, his lawyer Alejandro Balbi said.
Local media said registering for new accommodation would have helped expose Morabito, who had been on the run for 23 years.
Now Uruguay authorities are investigating how he managed to quietly live in the resort town of Punta del Este for the past 13 years without being detected.
So far their investigation has found that he had obtained Uruguayan residence papers after presenting a Brazilian passport in the name of Francisco Capeletto in 2004.
Until their recent separation, Morabito had lived with his wife — an Angolan national with a Portuguese passport named as Paula Maria De Oliveira Correia — and their daughter, according to the interior ministry.
By all accounts, he lived a quiet life in Punta del Este, a resort known as a playground for South America’s rich about 90 minutes drive north of Montevideo.
However, last February he threw a big coming-of-age party for his daughter who was turning 15 — a tradition in Uruguay — inviting classmates and their parents to one of the town’s trendy venues.
It seems the Uruguayan authorities had begun to take notice around then. The interior ministry said his arrest was part of a police operation code-named Calabria which began in March.
Morabito, a capo with the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, Italy’s most feared organized crime gang, is being held in a Montevideo prison, accused of forging identity documents, pending the arrival of an extradition request from Italy.
The Italian justice ministry said extradition documents are being prepared.
Morabito’s family had been renting a house in a well-heeled part of Punta del Este since last June, the owner of the property Daniel Puig told AFP.
Real-estate broker Puig met Morabito three years ago when he sold him a 600-hectare country estate with a Tuscan style farmhouse located some 40 kilometers from Punta del Este.
The family lived there until last year.
Puig and other Punta del Este residents were stunned to learn of the real identity of their acquaintance.
“He’s not a drug dealer type, someone who goes out to restaurants, having a luxury car. He was low profile,” Puig said. Morabito even drove around in a “super modest Chinese car.”
“He was a good person. He lived for his daughter,” he said.
According to a man who worked for the family, Oliveira was an enthusiastic buyer of artworks, and the estate had many paintings, dinnerware and expensive objects.
Morabito, on the other hand, “liked to cook. The kitchen was full of spices,” said the man, who wished to remain anonymous.
Another neighbor described Oliveira as “an elegant lady, she seemed high-class. She wasn’t nouveau riche. And she didn’t speak about him.”
Oliveira has made no comment and has reportedly taken refuge in a hotel with her daughter.
Morabito arrived in trendy Milan from his hometown of Africo in Italy’s poor southern region of Calabria at the age of 23, and quickly carved out a reputation as the city’s “king of cocaine.”
Nicknamed ‘U Tamunga’ in reference to a German military vehicle, the Dkw Munga, in Milan the young Morabito became a charismatic figure who frequented bars and parties, according to Italian press reports.
He quickly came to the attention of Italian anti-Mafia investigators and they regularly tracked him delivering suitcases filled with millions of lira to Colombian drug traffickers in a Milan piazza.
Police finally moved in on his birthday as he made what would be his last delivery, in October 1994, but the capo managed to escape.
The following year he was sentenced in absentia to 28 years’ imprisonment for mafia association and drug trafficking. Later the sentence was extended to 30 years.


Australia summons Turkish envoy over ‘offensive’ Erdogan comments

Updated 37 sec ago
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Australia summons Turkish envoy over ‘offensive’ Erdogan comments

SYDNEY: Australia’s prime minister said he would summon Turkey’s ambassador in Canberra on Wednesday to explain “very offensive” comments made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the Christchurch massacre.
Erdogan, while campaigning for local elections, presented the attack as part of an assault on Turkey and Islam and warned anti-Muslim Australians would suffer the same fate as soldiers at Gallipoli, a blood-drenched WWI battle.
“I find it a very offensive comment, of course I do, and I will be calling in the Turkish ambassador today to meet with me to discuss these issues,” Scott Morrison told national broadcaster ABC.
Erdogan had already been sharply rebuked by New Zealand for his comments and for using gruesome video shot by the Christchurch mosque gunman as an election campaign prop.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters protested on Monday that such politicization of the massacre “imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it’s totally unfair.”
Peters announced on Tuesday that he would be traveling to Turkey this week at Istanbul’s request to attend a special meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Three Turkish nationals were wounded in the rampage that killed 50 worshippers at two mosques in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday.
The accused gunman, a self-avowed white supremacist from Australia, livestreamed much of the attack and spread a manifesto on social media claiming it was a strike against Muslim “invaders.”
The manifesto references Turkey and the minarets of Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia, now a museum, that was once a church before becoming a mosque during the Ottoman empire.
“This is not an isolated event, it is something more organized,” he said during a campaign event on Monday in Canakkale in western Turkey.
“They are testing us with the message they are sending us from New Zealand, 16,500 km (10,250 miles) from here.”
Erdogan did not project the video at the Monday event.
Peters said he had complained directly to visiting Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.