king of cash | 

Kinahan ally Raffaele Imperiale says he was making €300k a MONTH from drug-dealing

‘He gave me the opportunity to reintroduce myself into the system by entrusting me with 300 kg of cocaine and telling me that I could pay for it when I could’

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Kinahan cartel ally Raffaele Imperiale has revealed how he was making €300,000 a MONTH from drug-dealing in fresh evidence given to prosecutors.

Following his dramatic arrest last August, the Italian Imperiale (48) has agreed to become a State witness in his home country, with his explosive statements to prosecutors now revealing what life was like for the crime boss.

The former king of the Narcos also explained the reason for his repentance as he wants “to set an example for my children and my family".

He relates how, in 2016, he took a look at the accounts and “realised that I had squandered everything”.

“I rolled up my sleeves and started my business again, this time internationally. To start over, I contacted Rico Riquelme, currently detained in the Netherlands. I contacted him through cryptographic systems.

“He gave me the opportunity to reintroduce myself into the system by entrusting me with 300 kg of cocaine and telling me that I could pay for it when I could, even in six/twelve months.

“It was a substance bought in Spain at €25,000 per kg, so it was worth 7.5 million. and that I sold in the Neapolitan area for around €31,000 per kg, thus earning €9 million.

“I kept these relationships directly (with the most important clans), always with encrypted telephones.

“On European territory, today 2,500 euros are earned for each kg of cocaine, previously even 7,000 per kg. Ultimately, I received about 300,000 euros a month.”

The insight into the crime boss’s previous life are contained in evidence given to judges as part of what has been described as his “willingness to collaborate with justice”.

“I intend to undertake a process of collaboration with the judiciary, answering every question and reporting every element in my possession useful for the reconstruction of the facts of which I am being investigated,” Imperiale has declared.

"It is an opportunity to change my life, and I intend to exploit it, also to set an example for my children and my family.

“Despite my intention to collaborate with justice, I currently do not intend to resort to a protection program or to undertake a collaboration in the form of the law on collaborators of justice, at least in the state".

Imperiale then described his rise in the world of drug trafficking.

“Arrived in Dubai in 2010, I had 90/100 million euros in cocaine with Mario Cerrone, which was in Naples, on various sources, the proceeds of my business in Brazil.

This "work" from Brazil had been done without the knowledge of the Amato-Paganos, and I decided to sell that quantity in the Neapolitan territory, little by little, so as not to attract attention. At that time there were as leaders of the Amato-Paganos, first Mariano Riccio, then "aunt Rosaria" or Rosaria Pagano as the leaders had been arrested."

Imperiale's arrest

In other text messages, the notorious drug trafficker claimed he would re-invest the proceeds of major cocaine deals into purchasing huge amounts of gold.

Through a contact in southern Italy, Imperiale would use cryptocurrency to purchase up to 40kg per month – an estimated €2 million worth.

According to Italian news outlets, Imperiale also revealed in a statement to prosecutors that he had access to the archives of international crime organisation Interpol.

He said that “through a Moroccan friend,” he was able to check the database for any warrants or custody orders aimed at his drug gang.

"I had the Interpol systems checked,” Imperiale told prosecutors in Naples, revealing he then instructed pal Raffaele Mauriello to “come” to Dubai.

Imperiale was number two on Italy’s most wanted list when he was extradited from the UAE, where he attended Daniel Kinahan’s wedding in 2017.

He is now in a bid to become State witness against the Camorra, the drug mafia he was a high-ranking member of for over two decades.

News of his gold-buying comes as court documents recently revealed that the cocaine kingpin blew through an astonishing €7 million as a fugitive in just three months.

He spent more than €3 million on “personal expenses” while on the run in Dubai.

After his extradition to Italy, Imperiale was arrested in his prison cell following a massive anti-mafia operation that led to the seizure of more than four tonnes of cocaine worth more than €800 million.

Imperiale later tried to claim his extradition from Dubai to Italy was a “kidnapping” and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

But an Italian court said there was no grounds to bring a direct appeal to the Supreme Court.

It is believed his decision to become State Witness came shortly after he was arrested in his cell last October.

His co-operation and arrest is the latest blow to the Kinahan crime gang.

After a ‘super cartel’ crackdown in Dubai in recent weeks, the Irish drug bosses have continued to evade law enforcement.

They are the most senior members of the cartel to have not yet been arrested.

Today's Headlines

More World Crime

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos