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Authorities turn down extradition request for Daniel Kinahan’s mafia pal Raffaele Imperiale

The alleged drug kingpin was nabbed after an extensive investigation involving Naples’s organized crime squad, public prosecutor’s office, financial crimes police, and other state authorities

Daniel Kinahan with (inset) mafia associate Raffaele Imperiale

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have turned down a request for the extradition of Daniel Kinahan’s mafia associate Raffaele Imperiale.

The 46-year-old boss of the Naples-based Camorra organisation was secretly arrested in his luxury Dubai villa while he was in the pool with his wife and four children last August.

Imperiale, a known associate of Kinahan’s who was a guest at the Irish crime boss's 2017 wedding in Dubai, had been wanted by Italian authorities since 2016 to serve an eight-year sentence for drug trafficking.

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

Prosecutors also claim Imperiale has ties with the leaders of Holland's notorious 'Mocro Maffia', led by Ridouan Taghi.

Raffaele Imperiale was arrested last August

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

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.

The alleged drug kingpin was nabbed on August 4 after an extensive investigation involving Naples’s organized crime squad, public prosecutor’s office, financial crimes police, and other state authorities.

Now, however, local authorities have rejected the request made by Italy’s DDA (Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia - Anti-Mafia District Directorate – to have him extradited to Italy.

Imperiale is considered by the Antimafia to be at the centre of an international drug trafficking route from South America-Amsterdam-Naples-Dubai.

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, and 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.

Daniel Kinahan

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

Judges heard briefly from the prosecution how Kinahan, 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.

Meanwhile, Taghi is facing accusations relating to six gangland murders in the Netherlands as well as drugs trafficking charges.

A leader of the notorious Mocro Maffia, Dutch media claim Taghi was behind the murder of well-known crime journalist Peter De Vries who had been advising and acting as a confidant for a witness in a case against Taghi, when he was gunned down in Amsterdam in July.

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