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Daniel Kinahan's 'super-cartel' Mafioso associate is added to Italy’s most wanted list

Raffaele Imperiale, 46, is a boss of the Naples-based Camorra organisation

Raffaele Imperiale and Daniel Kinahan

Patrick O'Connell

An Italian Mafioso, who attended cartel boss Daniel Kinahan’s wedding in Dubai, this week had his name added to a list of Italy’s six most wanted fugitives.

Raffaele Imperiale, 46, a boss of the Naples-based Camorra organisation, is wanted by Italian authorities to serve an eight year sentence for drug trafficking and is believed to be hiding out in Dubai.

Imperiale, who also appeared in a video with Kinahan found on the phone of Dutch drug lord Richard ‘El Rico’ Riquelme, had his name added to the list following the arrest of fellow Mafioso Rocco Morabito.

Italian authorities have been seeking his arrest since 2016.

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

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) documents sent to Dutch police identified Imperiale, Ridouan Taghi (a Dutch criminal now in jail) Edin G (a Bosnian drug trafficker) and Daniel Kinahan as the heads of a so-called ‘super drug cartel.’

The group was observed by the DEA having meetings in the plush Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.

Imperiale, Taghi and Edin G also attended Kinahan’s wedding at the hotel in 2017.

The DEA documents described the ‘super drugs cartel’ as one of the world’s fifty 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 now lives in Dubai and spends €400,000 maintaining his lavish lifestyle.

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.

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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