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Italy update

One of the most wanted criminals in Europe, Italy’s top Mafia cocaine trafficker, was called the “Van Gogh boss” for possessing two stolen paintings by Master Van Gogh. He was arrested after many years of fleeing.

Raphael Empire Italian police said He is “the main representative of international drug trafficking and money laundering” and was arrested in Dubai on August 4. The Italian authorities only confirmed the arrest this week. Currently, Imperiale is being held in the United Arab Emirates before being extradited to Italy.

The 46-year-old Imperiale has close ties with the powerful family of Camorra in Naples. It rose to fame when two paintings by Vincent Van Gogh were found in a house owned by the police near Naples. The Amsterdam Museum was stolen.

The paintings discovered by the police in the Imperiale villa in the small town of Castellammare di Stabia were “Scheveningen Beach in Stormy Weather” painted in 1882 and “Leaving the Congregation of the Newnan Reformed Church” painted in 1885. Italian police said the recovered paintings have “immeasurable value.”

The police claim that the undated photo of Raffaele Imperiale arrested in Dubai is the main representative of international drug trafficking and money laundering © Italian Police / Associated Press

The Ministry of the Interior stated that Imperiale was “on the list of the most dangerous fugitives” in Italy, and despite numerous large-scale seizures of his drug smuggling operations in the past decade, he still managed to evade arrest.

In 2013, French police seized 1.3 tons of cocaine. The Italian government claimed that the cocaine belonged to an imperial organization and was sent on an Air France flight from Caracas, Venezuela.

The Italian Minister of the Interior Luciana Lamorgese stated that the arrest of Imperiale under the coordination of Interpol and Europol “reaffirmed our police force’s ability to fight crimes, including those of a transnational nature”.

Imperiale left Italy in the 1990s and moved to Amsterdam, where he ran a coffee shop and began to establish contacts in the international drug market. After he established ties with the Di Lauro family of Secondigliano, his business relationship with the Naples organized crime family began to flourish in the 2000s.

Although Italy’s most famous organized crime group is still the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, its power has been significantly weakened in the past two decades, and from Camorra and Calabrian’Ndrangheta Become stronger.

The criminal family comes from ‘Ndrangheta Proved to be particularly good at establishing direct contact with Latin American drug cartels, which enabled them to obtain cheap and stable large quantities of cocaine supply.

In March, the top drug dealer Giuseppe Romeo (Giuseppe Romeo) was arrested after years of fleeing in Barcelona, ​​Spain. Earlier this month, Calabrian criminal chief Domenico Paviglianiti (Domenico Paviglianiti) was arrested in Madrid, and he has been at large since he was mistakenly released from prison in 2019.

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