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UAE: Italian drug dealer connected to stolen Van Gogh paintings arrested

Emirati policemen patrol in an especially modified Lamborghini Aventador on 16 April 2013 in the Gulf emirate of Dubai. [KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images]
Emirati policemen patrol in an especially modified Lamborghini Aventador on 16 April 2013 in the Gulf emirate of Dubai. [KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images]

A suspected Italian drug trafficker who police believe may have bought two stolen paintings by Vincent Van Gogh has been arrested in the UAE, Reuters has reported.

Raffaele Imperiale, 46, was arrested in Dubai on 4 August by local police officers cooperating with their Italian counterparts. He had been on the run since 2016 and Italy had included him on its list of most dangerous fugitives.

The paintings in question — "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen" and "View of the Sea at Scheveningen" — were stolen in Amsterdam in 2002. They were located by police in a villa owned by Imperiale near Naples in 2016. Each painting was worth an estimated 50 million euros ($58 million), investigators said after their recovery.

According to the police, Imperiale is a key figure in international drug trafficking and money laundering and has a close relationship with the Camorra mafia gang centred in Naples.

"An excellent result which once again demonstrates the ability of our police forces to fight crime," said Italy's Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese.

The Italian government is working to finalise the extradition of Imperiale, who is now in custody in the UAE.

READ: Detainee says China has secret prisons for Uyghurs in Dubai

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Europe & RussiaItalyMiddle EastNewsUAE
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