The 47-year-old international drug trafficker who had been arrested last year at his luxurious desert bolt-hole was finally flown to Rome on Friday.
Ranked number two on Italy’s most wanted fugitive list, Imperiale was arrested last August as he basked with his family by a swimming pool at his luxury villa.
Within hours of Imperiale landing in Italy, another associate of Daniel Kinahan - Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh - was before Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing hearing for drugs trafficking offences.
Yesterday, ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh began a massive 21-year sentence for drugs and money laundering offences.
Last month, Italian Justice Minister Marta Cartabia had flown to Dubai to deliver her country’s request for the extradition of Imperiale, after authorities in the United Arab Emirates turned down a previous request.
Aside from running a criminal organisation back in his native Italy, it is understood UAE authorities were told Imperiale ran his money-laundering operation from the Gulf.
An initial extradition application focused on his membership of Europe's so-called 'Super Cartel' along with Kinahan, Balkan mob boss Edin Gacanin and the caged Dutch mafia head Ridouan Taghi.
Nicknamed 'Lelluccio', Imperiale who is a known associate of Kinahan’s and was a guest at the Irish crime boss's 2017 wedding in Dubai, is believed to be one of the leaders of a 'super-cartel' which controls a major portion of Europe's lucrative cocaine trade.
Kinahan was previously identified in Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) documents sent to Dutch police as one of the heads of the so-called ‘super drug cartel' which includes Imperiale, Taghi, Bosnian criminal Edin Gačanin and Richard 'El Rico' Riquelme Vega.
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.
Imperiale 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.
Local authorities rejected a previous request made by Italy’s DDA (Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia - Anti-Mafia District Directorate – to have him extradited to Italy that prompted the second attempt to have him face justice.
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 is just the latest associate of mob boss Daniel Kinahan to come before the courts.
Yesterday, ‘Bomber’ called ‘The Gaffer’ by his drug lieutenants and co-accused Gary Vickery and Daniel Canning sat stone faced at Ipswich Crown Court as Mr Justice Martyn Levett explained how gardai had been central to the demise of Kavanagh and his cronies.
He told the court that a search in Dublin in January 2017, which was conducted by officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, netted the key to blowing open the operation in the UK.
The search uncovered Kavanagh’s weapons stash including a Kalashnikov, an Uzi sub-machine gun, numerous silencers and revolvers.
The guns were primed and ready for use and officers believed that they had been shipped in to up the murder count in the Kinahan and Hutch feud, which Kavanagh was helping Daniel Kinahan directly.
The judge sentenced Kavanagh to 27 years, reduced to 21 with eight and two year sentences to run concurrently. He told him he would serve half and then be released on licence back to the community and that a proceeds of crime case will follow immediately.