Child killings and severed heads on the road in the heart of Europe: “This is a drug deal”

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Child killings and severed heads on the road in the heart of Europe: “This is a drug deal”

“We DEFINITELY have the characteristics of a drug state. We are not, of course, Mexico. We do not have 14,400 murders, but if you look at the infrastructure, the huge money that is being made by organized crime, the parallel economy, we can say that we have a drug state,” says Jan Struijs, president of the largest Dutch police union. echo in a society shaken by murder that goes beyond the bubble of the criminal underworld, the BBC reports.

The murder of Derk Wiersum in the shooting breaks the common misconception that drug cartels only kill their own. This 44-year-old father of two was killed in September by his wife in front of their Amsterdam home. Wiersum was the lawyer for a key prosecution witness, Nabila B., who became a penitent informant in the trial of two of the most wanted Dutch suspects. Shooting in the middle of the day in a quiet suburb was seen as an attack on civil society, democracy and the rule of law.

“This is aimed at frightening us. We must continue to use key witnesses otherwise we cannot go on,” Attorney General Fred Westerbeke warned.

Suddenly, fears emerged that the Netherlands would become a haven for drug addicts and a safe haven for drug crime and that the economy would suffer as a result.

“A few incidents in the last few years have been like wall signs. There were signs that things would be floating from the underground to the surface and now that's what happened,” says Wouter Laumans, who wrote the bestseller Mocro Mafia, the story of the rise of a new generation of criminals in Amsterdam.

Escalation of brutality

Laumans cites incidents as evidence of escalation of brutality:

1. Two boys killed by Kalashnikov bullets that bounced off the walls
2. A mother killed in front of her children
3. A severed head in front of a coffee shop
4. The murder of a key witness brother, Reduan B.
5. The assassination of derk lawyer Wiersum.

What is Mocro Mafia?

“It's about street slang. Young Moroccans call each other Mocro. We came up with the name Mocro Mafia to round out what the book is about. I see that name is now used in police reports, but it's not just about Moroccans. It's about young guys growing up in parts of Amsterdam that tourists never go into, ”explains Laumas, who wrote the book with Marijn Schrijver.

“These are not canals, the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh. These are residential neighborhoods. They do not have the same opportunities. They are looking for a career underground,” Laumans says.

Even before Wiersum's murder, a report commissioned by the mayor of Amsterdam in August describes the capital as “Valhalla for drug criminals.” The Netherlands has not yet become a drug lord, but there is a danger, Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus warns. Without decisive intervention, says Grapperhaus, “we will have a minister here wearing dark glasses, not someone who is democratically responsible.”

“We knew what was going to happen. Lawyers, mayors, police officers, we were all threatened by organized crime. All the alarms went off, but politicians were naive. Now the foundations of our society have been eroded,” said Jan Struijs.

A few days later another Dutch lawyer, Philippe Schol, was shot in the leg from a vehicle while walking a dog near his home across the border in Germany. One poll found that 59 percent of people believe the Netherlands is a drug-addict today, in other words a country whose economy is dependent on illegal drug trafficking.

It seems ironic that in a bureaucratic country that sends a dog tax reminder or immediately fines, overstaying gangsters go unpunished, and gangster shootings happen on a regular basis.

Arrest of the most wanted person in the Netherlands

Then a high-profile arrest took place in the Persian Gulf this week. Ridouan Taghi was arrested with false documents upon his arrival in Dubai on the basis of an international arrest warrant on suspicion of multiple killings and drug trafficking. Police described the 41-year-old as “one of the most dangerous men in the world” and are suspected of ordering a series of killings, including the murder of Derk Wiersum.

Dutch prosecutors immediately demanded his extradition as a major organized crime trial begins in March 2020 and he was transferred to the Netherlands on Wednesday. The Marengo case involves five murders and a series of attempted murders, including the murder of informant brother Nabil B. Ridouan Taghi is believed to have lived in Dubai with his wife and six children.

Dutch police say his arrest followed intense international co-operation, not based on a tip.

Hundreds of detectives were involved, with police chief Erik Akerboom saying the arrest was “of great importance to the Netherlands.”
“Taghi and his assistants are a threat to the rule of law. It is extremely important for us as police to eliminate threats,” Akerboom said.

The following day, six people were arrested all over the Netherlands on suspicion of money laundering and possession of drugs and weapons. Although the arrest of Ridouan Taghi is a success for the Dutch police services, Wouter Laumans doubts that this will deter young people from striving to follow in his footsteps.

“It's about opportunities in society. They're no different than bankers or journalists, they want money. If you're not a good football player or don't have the brains to get out of this world, then this is all that's left. It's not a drug problem, it's a social problem, ”Laumans says.

What is the Dutch drug problem?

The Netherlands has, in a sense, created the perfect environment for the flourishing of the drug trade. With its extensive transport network, its lenient laws and penalties, and its proximity to numerous lucrative markets, it has clearly become the focus of the global narcotic flow.

Renowned writer Roberto Saviano, who chronicles the organized crime network of the Camorra of Naples, believes that the influence of the Amsterdam mob is even worse.

“There are clans from all over the world because the Netherlands is one of the most important transport ports. They know that whoever controls the Netherlands also controls the artery of the global drug market,” Saviano told the Volkskrant daily.

The black market is making billions of euros. In the Netherlands, synthetic drugs worth 18.9 billion euros were manufactured in 2017. Soft drugs have been imported from Colombia and North Africa for 30 years. Today, a significant proportion of synthetic drugs are produced in the Netherlands: MDM, LSD, amphetamines, GHB and crystal meth. The Netherlands is considered the world leader in this production.
Police union chief Jan Struijs points to the speed at which the drug is being transported around the world.

“On the day Donald Trump became US president, the first characteristic ecstasy pills 'Trumpies' were found at Schiphol Airport. Only 24 hours later, they could be bought in Australia. There are many Mexicans helping to produce crystal meth in the Netherlands. We have cocaine supplies. in Venezuela and Suriname, we have very low prices in Amsterdam, Liverpool and Manchester. Every gram that is sold helps organized crime and the funding of these drug cartels, “says Struijs.

How the Netherlands fits into the drug cartel

South American drugmakers are starting the process by sending goods to West Africa. The drugs then head north across the old smuggling lines in Morocco, and young Moroccans whose parents have moved to the Netherlands still have family links and migration routes to exploit.

Police believe that Ridouan Taghi thus acquired his fortune. He inherited or “gained control” of the smuggling line and began transferring cocaine instead of cannabis, which brought in more money and more violence. Although leaders often operate internationally, police fear they use leverage to control paid killers, who are getting younger.

“The police do not understand that there are no means of intervention. It's not just about cutting the budget. Prevention teams are disappearing among the youth, so they go under the radar. Then all of a sudden we see them participating in liquidations,” says Jan Struijs.

Does this mean that the Netherlands has turned into a drug state?

“I don't have bodies hanging from bridges, but we do have corruption in ports, violence against lawyers and threats to journalists. There are definitely some characteristics of the drug state,” explains Wouter Laumans.

If the Netherlands has this unenviable status, it generally manifests itself under the radar. The Dutch economy may not be dependent on or defined by the drug industry, but this industry is certainly increasingly affecting society.

Child killings and severed heads on the road in the heart of Europe: “This is a drug deal”

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