File picture: Rahman Safi/Xinhua

Rome - One of Italy's top five fugitives, 'Ndrangheta Mafia boss Rocco Morabito, has been arrested in Uruguay after spending 23 years on the run.

In a Monday statement, Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti congratulated Italian and Uruguayan police for apprehending "the number one fugitive" from the 'Ndrangheta.

The 50-year-old has been convicted in absentia for belonging to a Mafia organization, cocaine trafficking and other serious crimes, and should serve a 30-year-prison sentence.

Morabito was arrested on Sunday in a hotel in the centre of Montevideo, the Uruguayan Interior Ministry said in a separate statement, adding that his wife was also apprehended.

The mobster used a fake Brazilian passport under the name of Francisco Capeletto. His wife, a 54-year-old from Angola, was arrested at home in the luxury beach resort of Punta del Este.

The couple lived in a villa with a pool, according to photos released by the ministry. It added that Morabito would be detained for three months while extradition requests are processed.

Uruguayan authorities seized several items, including a gun, 13 mobile phones, 12 credit cards, 150 ID photos showing Morabito in different clothing, two cars and more than 50,000 dollars in cash.

Originating from Calabria, the region that forms the tip of Italy's boot, the 'Ndrangheta is one of the world's most powerful organized crime groups, and is the leading smuggler of cocaine into Europe.