Drug Mafia Boss, 16 Accomplices Convicted in Amsterdam

Published: 01 March 2024

Amsterdam Police

Police officers patrolled the surrounding streets of the courthouse. (Photo: Joe Pemberton, Flickr, License)

By Lieth Carrillo

The longest trial in the history of the Netherlands concluded Tuesday when the Amsterdam District Court imposed life sentences on three individuals, including the head of a criminal organization involved in drug trafficking to Europe and underworld killings.

Ridouan Taghi, once the most wanted fugitive in the Netherlands, was arrested in Dubai and extradited in 2019. Taghi, referred to by the court as "the undisputed leader of the criminal organization focused on murders, firearms offenses and aggravated robberies," belonged to the Mocro Maffia, also known as the Dutch mafia.

According to law enforcement, this violent organization controlled up to a third of the European cocaine market.

Prosecutors said Taghi masterminded the deaths of five people over one and a half years and the attempted murder of two more since the trial opened. He was also found responsible for preparing an attack on a spy shop in Nieuwegein. Such shops sell a variety of surveillance and security equipment.

“Criminal rivals, people who may have defaulted on a debt or talked to his enemies or the police; they were all at risk of ending up on a death list,” the Court stated.

The murder campaign included lawyer Derk Wiersum, who represented Nabil Bakkham, a key witness in the case. Bakkham was implicated in one of the murders, but agreed to cooperate with prosecutors for a lesser sentence.

Wiersum was shot dead in 2019 outside his home in Amsterdam.

Dutch crime reporter and investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries died in 2021, nine days after being shot in Amsterdam. De Vries was working as an advisor to the key prosecution witness in the Taghi trial.

According to investigators, both the lawyer representing Nabil Bakkham and de Vries were blacklisted in the underworld by the criminal organization led by Taghi. Other criminal associates suspected of becoming police informants were also killed.

None of the surviving family members and victims wished to speak or file a claim as an injured party, for fear of retaliation from Taghi's organization, the court found.

Sixteen other suspected participants in the crimes were also sentenced on Tuesday. Two men identified only as Said R. and Mario R. were sentenced to life imprisonment for complicity in murder, complicity in the preparation of murder and complicity in the preparation of the attack on the spy store. Thirteen co-suspects were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 1 year and 9 months to 29 years and 2 months. A key witness was sentenced to 10 years in prison.