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Raffaele Imperiale.
raffaele imperiale

Italian mafia boss with close ties to Daniel Kinahan 'to turn state witness' following arrest

The mafia boss wants to “change his life”, according to Italian media.

A MAJOR CRIMINAL ally of Daniel Kinahan has turned state’s witness in Italy after he was extradited there from Dubai. 

Raffaele Imperiale, considered to be one of Italy’s most dangerous fugitives, was a top operative from the Naples organised crime world and one of the bosses of the feared Camorra mafia crime group.

He was arrested in Dubai last year and was later extradited back to his native Italy. 

It has now emerged in Italian media that Imperiale has gone ‘pentito’ – an Italian phrase meaning “repentant”. This is another way to say that he is now cooperating with the Italian authorities. 

This news spells more bad news for Daniel Kinahan and the Kinahan Organised Crime Group, such was the closeness between Daniel and Raffaele Imperiale.

Accoding to sources, the pair were seen by US undercover agents at Kinahan’s Dubai wedding several years ago. The two had long been known to work closely together on drug trafficking deals and were known as friends.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica has reported that Imperiale will be helping Naples Magistrates with cases linked to his mafia dealings. The paper also reports that Imperiale wants to “change his life”. The paper has court filings relating to Imperiale’s decision.

However, Imperiale has a “wealth of knowledge” about international drug trafficking  and could be key in bringing down dozens of sophisticated drug trafficking rings including what remains of the KOCG, according to well placed sources. 

Like many crime bosses in Italy and elsewhere on the continent, Imperiale was caught up in one of the largest phone stings in criminal history two years ago.

EncroChat, a company which legally provides encrypted phones, was set up to offer customers guaranteed cybersecurity, meaning messages sent from their devices could not be traced back to the user. For example, the SIM card or device used by a customer was not associated with their account.

It became used by criminals due to these high-end safety features. 

However, the system was infiltrated by Europol in 2020, leading to hundreds of arrests across Europe and beyond. 

Raffaele Imperiale is said to have used the encrypted service to talk to colleagues such as Daniel Kinahan about ongoing shipments and other drug-related business, according to Europol.

Imperiale, according to Irish sources who spoke to The Journal, is now seen by international police forces as a key asset and someone who has the ability and the knowledge to take down cartels worldwide.

Imperiale, one of the heads of the Camorra organised crime syndicate, left Italy for Amsterdam in the 1990s to manage a coffee shop, and began allying himself with Dutch traffickers.

After first dealing in ecstasy tablets, he set his sights on the more lucrative cocaine trade, moving tons of drugs into the Netherlands for the European market with the help of South American traffickers.

In 2016, Italian police found two Van Gogh paintings that had been stolen from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh museum 14 years earlier inside a home outside Naples belonging to Imperiale.