Van Gogh Theft Suspect and Drug Kingpin Arrested in UAE

Italian police announced on Aug. 19 that an alleged major cocaine trader, accused of buying two stolen Van Gogh paintings with drug money, was arrested on Aug. 4 in Dubai.

Raffaele Imperiale, an alleged leader in the Italian Mafia Camorra, was one of Italy’s most wanted fugitives.

The Italian Interior Ministry said that authorities have sought Imperiale since 2016 for alleged international drug trafficking.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese stated that Imperiale is “a top exponent of international drug trafficking and money laundering, who accumulated huge amounts of illicit wealth thanks above all to cocaine sales.’

Police found two Van Gogh paintings that went missing in 2002 hidden in Imperiale’s property during an investigation of the Camorra in 2016.

Italian officials marked the recovery of the Van Gogh artworks as an insight to how Italian gangs use art as drug currencies.

Imperiale denied links to the artworks’ theft earlier this year, saying he bought them for the cheap price and because he loved art.

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