Italy arrests ‘Van Gogh’ mafia boss after years on the run

Italy updates

One among Europe’s most needed criminals, a high Italian Mafia cocaine trafficker generally known as the “Van Gogh boss” for having owned two stolen work by the Dutch grasp, has been arrested after years on the run.

Raffaele Imperiale, who Italian police said was “a number one exponent of worldwide drug trafficking and cash laundering”, was arrested in Dubai on August 4. The arrest was solely confirmed by Italian authorities this week, and Imperiale is being held within the United Arab Emirates earlier than being extradited to Italy.

Imperiale, 46, who had robust ties with highly effective households of the Neapolitan Camorra, rose to fame after police discovered two work by Vincent van Gogh, which had been stolen from an Amsterdam museum in 2002, in a home that he owned close to Naples.

The work the police found in Imperiale’s villa within the small city of Castellammare di Stabia have been “Seaside at Scheveningen in Stormy Climate”, painted in 1882, and “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen”, painted in 1885. The Italian police mentioned the recovered work had “inestimable worth”.

Raffaele Imperiale, who has been arrested in Dubai, is claimed by police to be a number one exponent of drug trafficking and cash laundering (undated {photograph}) © Italian Police/AP

Imperiale, the inside ministry mentioned, was “on the checklist of most harmful fugitives” in Italy and had managed to evade seize regardless of a number of massive seizures in opposition to his drug smuggling operation over the previous decade.

In 2013, police in France seized 1.3 tonnes of cocaine, which the Italian authorities mentioned belonged to the Imperiale organisation and had been despatched on an Air France flight from Caracas in Venezuela.

Luciana Lamorgese, Italian inside minister, mentioned Imperiale’s arrest, which was co-ordinated with Interpol and Europol, “as soon as once more demonstrates the power of our police forces to fight felony phenomena, together with these of a transnational nature”. 

Imperiale left Italy for Amsterdam within the Nineteen Nineties the place he ran a espresso store and started to construct contacts within the worldwide medicine market. His enterprise relationship with Neapolitan organised crime households started to flourish within the 2000s, after he established contact with the Di Lauro clan of Secondigliano.

Whereas Italy’s greatest identified organised felony group stays the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, its energy has waned considerably over the previous 20 years whereas criminals from the Camorra and Calabrian ’Ndrangheta have grown stronger.

Crime households from the ‘Ndrangheta have confirmed notably adept at establishing direct contact with Latin American medicine cartels, which has allowed them to safe low cost and regular provides of cocaine in massive portions.

In March, Giuseppe Romeo, a high ‘Ndrangheta medicine trafficker, was arrested after years on the run in Barcelona in Spain. This month Domenico Paviglianiti, a veteran Calabrian crime boss who had been on the run after being mistakenly launched from jail in 2019, was arrested in Madrid.

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