Rocco Morabito and three other inmates got out of the National Institute of Rehabilitation in Montevideo “through the roof,” the Uruguayan interior ministry said Monday.
The fugitives made their way to a nearby farm and robbed its owner, the ministry statement said.
A member of the Ndrangheta or Calabrian cartel, Morabito has been one of Italy’s most-wanted fugitives since 1994. He was arrested in Uruguay in 2017 after more than 20 years on the run.
He was sentenced to 30 years in prison by an Italian court, Prosecutors say Morabito was instrumental in drug trafficking operations between South America and Milan.
“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.”
When he was arrested, Morabito had been living a life of luxury under a false Brazilian identity with fake Portuguese passports.