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He has since agreed to become a witness against other gangsters and associates around the world including the Kinahans who will now be fearful he’ll spill the beans on their activities to prosecutors
A criminal file against Kinahan-linked mafia leader Raffaele Imperiale exposes how he used an encrypted phone network to orchestrate multi-million drugs and cash shipments through Europe from his base in Dubai.
The Camorra-linked Italian criminal, who formed a supercartel with the Kinahans and other major drugs groups including the Mocro Mafia led by Ridouan Tahgi, Chilean criminal Ricardo Riquelme Vega and the Balkan mob led by Edin Gacanin, was arrested in Dubai last August and extradited to Italy.
He has since agreed to become a witness against other gangsters and associates around the world including the Kinahans who will now be fearful he’ll spill the beans on their activities to prosecutors.
Dutch media outlets RTL News and Follow the Money who were given access to the Italian criminal file against Imperiale reported that it exposed an extensive smuggling network in Europe.
They reveal how his gang drove trucks loaded with thousands of kilos of cocaine from business parks in North Holland to Italy where it was destined delivered to mafia groups in Naples, Calabria and other areas.
The files also reveal that Imperiale organised trucks loaded with millions of euro from Italy to Holland.
One cash delivery of €2.5m was intended for the eldest son of Ridouan Taghi, according to Italian prosecutors.
They allege that Taghi, who is facing life in prison in Holland for organised crime offences including multiple murders, kept in touch with Imperiale from inside prison.
The files say that in 2020 and 2021 Imperiale organised trucks loaded with a total of 1,556 kilos of cocaine to travel from company warehouses in Holland to mobs in Italy.
Based on how gardai value cocaine in Ireland the shipments would have a potential street value of €108m.
Imperiale spent most of his time in Dubai living in the seven star Burj Al Arab hotel – the base from where he organised the shipments.
He was sending accomplices via the encrypted Sky ECC messaging services which mobsters thought was impenetrable by security services.
They spoke openly about drugs and cash shipments due to their confidence in the encryption and gang members even sent photos of how the cocaine was hidden from Holland to Imperiale.
Messages also revealed how €2.5m was delivered to Holland for Taghi’s son.
In a message from Imperiale to Taghi Jnr sent on February 4, 2021: “He wrote Salaam… How are you? We will ask that other man to pay for the 1ml. Can you send another token ? To immediately pay the other 1.5 m."
The ‘token’ refers to a bank note with a serial number on it which is photographed by one side and sent to the other. The cash can then only be handed over to someone who is carrying the bank note with the exact serial number.
A number of trucks arrived with cash in the Netherland’s four days late and were collected by an associate of Taghi jnr.
“"He received the first million, thank you," Taghi jnr then replies to Imperiale.
They were sending the messages completely unaware Dutch and French police had cracked the encryption and were reading the messages in real time.
In legal papers filed in a Dutch case against Taghi’s former lawyer and cousin Youssef Taghi, prosecutors claim Taghi’s eldest son can be regarded as the second man in his organisation.
"Still partly under the wing of his father, he is put in position by his father to manage the organization. This includes organizing an outbreak or escape attempt by Ridouan Taghi, money laundering and the drug trafficking."
Taghi snr was still able to keep in touch with Imperiale despite being held in a maximum security in prison since in the Netherlands since his extradition from Dubai in 2019.
Dutch prosecutors wrote: "Imperiale ranks on an equal footing with Ridouan Taghi and manages its own branch, which is mainly concerned with the trafficking of narcotics He also acts as a source of information for Taghi (junior)”.
Imperiale was considered at one of the highest levels in the global drug trade.
He is originally from Italy but moved to Amsterdam in the 1990s and forged links with Dutch criminals.
As well as heavy involvement in the drugs trade he organised weapons shipments to the Neapolitan mafia.
Like his associates in the Kinahan cartel he subsequently moved to Spain and the gangster’s paradise of Dubai.
He helped form the so-called supercartel with the Kinahan’s and other European gangs while in Dubai.
Leaders of the gangs attended Daniel Kinahan’s wedding at Burj al Arab where investigators from the US Drug Enforcement Administration carried out surveillance on the supercartel leaders.
Kinahan and Edin Gacanin and now the only leaders of the supercartel still at large.
Gacanin had been arrested in Dubai last November but was recently released in a move that surprised law enforcement officials in other countries who expected him to be extradited to the Netherlands to face organised crime charges.