By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.
Most wanted Camorra drug boss Raffaele Imperiale was arrested in Dubai, anonymous high-ranking sources within law enforcement agencies in Italy told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf today. However, authorities have not yet officially confirmed it.
Rumors of Imperiale’s arrest popped up this week, but until now no media reports were able to confirm anything.
46-year-old Imperiale is one of the biggest drug traffickers in Europe and has been among Italy’s most wanted fugitives. He is a leading member of the Camorra and supplied the Amato-Pagano and Di Lauro Clans in the infamous Scampia neighborhood in Naples.
The drug business was a natural fit for Imperiale. He came to the Netherlands in the 1990s and was involved in several “coffeeshops”, places where people could legally buy marijuana and hashish. Eventually, he began trafficking cocaine. The pipeline made Imperiale millions and established him as one of the premier drug bosses in Europe.
He invested a portion of his drug money in two paintings of Van Gogh, which were stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and used them as collateral during negotiations with South American drug cartels.
These paintings were valued at over $100 million and came in handy as a valuable commodity which could easily be moved from one place to the next. He eventually hid them in a house in Castellammare di Stabia near Naples, where they were subsequently found by authorities in 2016.
Imperiale is alleged to have given the paintings up to Italian authorities in exchange for a lower prison sentence. Prosecutors initially recommended Imperiale to be sentenced to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking, but he managed to negotiate an 8-year reduction.
He has yet to serve a day of it. He was already long gone. He lived a life of luxury in Dubai, where he spent $500,000 a month and stayed at expensive villas and $1,500-a-night hotel rooms. All the while, he continued organizing drug shipments.
He worked closely with the Kinahan Clan from Dublin, Ireland, attending the 2017 wedding of mob boss Daniel Kinahan at the luxurious Burj al Arab 7-star hotel, and formed a close partnership with Dutch crime bosses Ridouan Taghi and Richard Eduardo Riquelme Vega. The three formed an effective drug cartel which controlled a third of the cocaine trade in Europe. The DEA considers the group among the top 50 of the world's drug cartels.
Of these men, only Kinahan and Imperiale had not yet been placed in handcuffs. Riquelme Vega and Taghi are both looking at long prison sentenced for drug trafficking and several murders in the Netherlands. Authorities had managed to crack their encrypted telephones and read their text messages in which they ordered gangland rivals killed.
The text messages also revealed their communications with Imperiale, which could cause him a lot of legal headaches in the near future.
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