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Daniel Kinahan’s super-cartel Mafioso associate is arrested in Dubai after years on the run

Imperiale was at the top of Italy’s most wanted list

Raffaele Imperiale (L) and Daniel Kinahan (R)
Rocco Morabito. Photo: AFP
Ridouan Taghi, the crime boss who is alleged to
                  be an ally of Daniel Kinahan

Raffaele Imperiale (L) and Daniel Kinahan (R)

August 19 2021 01:34 PM

An Italian Mafioso, who attended cartel boss Daniel Kinahan’s wedding in Dubai, has been arrested after years on the run.

Raffaele Imperiale (46) a boss of the Naples-based Camorra organisation, had been wanted by Italian authorities to serve an eight year sentence for drug trafficking.

The Italian was believed to be hiding out in Dubai where Dutch media reported he has been caught.

“Multiple investigative sources at the highest level and authorities in Italy confirm the arrest to De Telegraaf,” the paper has reported, adding, “no authorities have officially said anything about the arrest.”

“Various countries have been involved in the arrest and investigation of the alleged cocaine smuggler,” it adds.

“Imperiale tops Italy’s most wanted justice list. He belongs to the dreaded Camorra, the mafia organization from Naples that is fully active in the Netherlands.

“In 1996 he took over the Rockland coffee shop in Amsterdam and set up a cocaine line with the criminal Rick van de Bunt, who was liquidated (assassinated) in 2008. (It is believed) that they earned many millions of dollars (through their activities).”

In June, it was reported how Imperiale had his name added to the list of Italy’s most wanted following the arrest of fellow Mafioso Rocco Morabito.

Rocco Morabito. Photo: AFP

Rocco Morabito. Photo: AFP

Italian authorities have been seeking his arrest since 2016.

They consider him to be one of the country’s most significant drug traffickers.

Imperiale is believed to be one of the leaders of a ‘super-cartel’ which controls a major portion of Europe’s lucrative cocaine trade.

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) documents sent to Dutch police identified Imperiale, Dutch mobster Ridouan Taghi, Bosnian criminal Edin Gačanin, Richard ‘El Rico’ Vega and Daniel Kinahan as the heads of a so-called ‘super drug cartel.’

During El Rico’s trial, a Dutch court heard how Imperiale appeared in a video with Kinahan which was found on the phone of Dutch drug lord.

According to the DEA, Imperiale, Taghi and Edin Gačanin also attended Kinahan’s wedding at the plush Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai in 2017.

Ridouan Taghi, the crime boss who is alleged to be an
              ally of Daniel Kinahan

Ridouan Taghi, the crime boss who is alleged to be an ally of Daniel Kinahan

The DEA documents described the ‘super drugs cartel’ as one of the world’s 50 largest drug cartels, with a virtual monopoly of the Peruvian cocaine trade.

The documents said the ‘super drugs cartel’ controlled around a third of the cocaine trade into Europe – with the main point of access through Dutch ports.

Born in Italy, Imperiale’s criminal career began in earnest in 1996 when an older brother who died bequeathed him the Rockland coffee shop in Amsterdam.

From here Imperiale is alleged to have embarked on his criminal career by selling ‘soft’ drugs before expanding into cocaine trafficking with Dutch drug trader Rick van de Bunt.

Imperiale was later introduced by Antonio Orefice, a member of the Moccia clan, to Elio Amato, brother of Raffaele Amato, who was at that time one of the top drug traffickers of the Di Lauro clan.

During those years Imperiale earned millions of euros, becoming the point of contact for the Di Lauro’s organization in dealing with drug trafficking cartels in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

Imperiale is also known to be a fanatical collector of art works.

In 2016, two Van Gogh paintings, stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2002, were recovered in a villa in Castellammare di Stabia, owned by him.

According to authorities, Imperiale was spending a fortune maintaining a lavish lifestyle in Dubai.

In March of this year further evidence emerged of the links between the Kinahan cartel and Imperiale at the trial of Richard ‘El Rico’ Riquelme in Amsterdam.

Richard ‘El Rico’ Riquelme

Richard ‘El Rico’ Riquelme

Daniel Kinahan appeared in a video alongside Riquelme and Imperiale recovered from the Dutchman’s phone, the trial heard.

Judges heard briefly from the prosecution how Kinahan (43) was a “regular contact” of Riquelme’s and was in a video on a phone seized from him following his arrest and extradition to Holland from Chile in 2017.

In June Riquelme was sentenced to 11 years in prison after being found guilty of operating an assassination ring and laundering drug money.

His trial heard he had exchanged phone messages organising gangland murders with jailed drug boss Taghi.

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