Uruguay's prisons chief resigned on Tuesday in the wake of a sensational jailbreak by Italian mob boss Rocco Morabito, “Milan's cocaine king” that angered Rome, which was awaiting his extradition.
The incident set light on yet another corruption scandal in the Uruguayan police, particularly the Montevideo branch, and the Interior ministry, which has been headed by Eduardo Bonomi for the last nine years, and according to the opposition in a clear demonstration of incompetence and little control over the force.
Despite primary elections next Sunday in Uruguay, Bonomi has been urgently summoned by Congress to explain what happened.
In a release the Interior ministry said it had accepted the resignation of Alberto Gadea, adding that it was initiating disciplinary measures against staff at the downtown Montevideo jail where Morabito had been held.
A top figure in the Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta organized crime group arrested in Uruguay in 2017 after decades on the run, 52-year-old Morabito was awaiting extradition for international drug trafficking.
The Uruguayan government has given no public explanation for how Morabito, once one of the world's most wanted criminals, could so easily escape through a hole on the sixth floor with two inmates.
A third inmate who is also missing it has now been revealed by the Montevideo media and confirmed by police sources that he simply walked out of the building dressed in a police uniform.
Rome is furious and is demanding explanations from the Uruguayan government headed by oncologist Tabare Vazquez, and has pledged to recapture Morabito wherever he might be.
But details of the escape are emerging and they involve bribes for police officers to look the other way and not comply with the rounds they should be making, while the now escaped criminals bore a hole in a prison wall built in the fifties and which is at least eighty centimeters wide.
Likewise a two-page internal intelligence report from last year indicating that the notorious boss of the Calabria mafia Ndrangueta was offering a floor of US$ 80.000 to anyone willing to help him escape, was boxed away by top officers.
Something similar can be said of the police officer on duty who received the report from the lady whose apartment was broken in by the escaping inmates on Sunday night, and apparently ignored it. .
The next round of cells and prisoners took place as everyday at 07:30 which means Morabito and the other fugitives had more than sufficient time to reach either neighboring Argentina or Brazil.
Media has also reported that the hole was bored in the sixth and last floor of the building, while most cells and prisoners are in the fourth floor. However doors leading to the sixth floor were found unlocked and a surveillance post in the rooftop seems to have been out of use for some time.
The truth is Morabito could offer US$ 800.000 to each cop if he wanted, but US$ 80.000 was obviously the starting point for bargaining a right price said one of the officers now in charge of the investigation.
At the moment of the escape apparently four officers and a special force member were in charge of looking after the Calabria mafia leader.
Rocco Morabito and the other three who escaped were what is known in local jargon as administrative prisoners, waiting to be extradited to Italy, Brazil and Argentina, and enjoyed better incarceration conditions than common prisoners in normal prisons.
In a normal country when an event of this international impact occurs, and domestic indiscipline, the normal thing would be for the head of the Police, probably with his top officers, but also the Interior Minister and his Deputy to resign.
However this is hard to see in Uruguay, Bonomi is a most trusted ally and advisor of ex president Jose Mujica, and the deputy minister, a former nurse, Jorge Vazquez is none else but the brother of President Vazquez.
Bonomi apparently is also not much loved or respected by some of his subordinates, since allegedly when an urban guerrilla he shot in the neck and killed two police officers off duty.