Crime Lord caught trying to stage a movie-style escape

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Ridouan Taghi with an aged sketch to show what he may look like today. Photo: Police document.

A suspected Dutch mobster whose business is accused of multiple gang killings and large-scale drug trafficking has been caught plotting an action movie-style escape from his high-security prison.

Ridouan Taghi discussed escaping with the help of ‘Navy SEAL’-type mercenaries with his lawyer cousin during meetings to prepare for his trial, according to Dutch authorities, who have accused his drug gang of murdering journalists , lawyers and witnesses.

Taghi, who was finally captured in October 2019 after a global manhunt that ended with his arrest in Dubai, had offered three scenarios to his cousin, who used his status as a lawyer to meet him in prison , which included hiring highly trained gunmen to raid the courthouse or jail to free him, or failing that, offering to kidnap jail employees or their family members for a trade. The plans were discovered when police intercepted messages between gang members.

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The armed police are on alert outside the extra-secure court in Amsterdam which is hosting the “Marengo trial”. Photo: Robin Utrecht/ANP/AFP via Getty Images.

‘It sounds crazy like something out of a movie and I would say someone else is talking complete shit,’ said a Belgian detective, who is not allowed to officially speak to the media, in the city neighboring Antwerp, where Taghi’s organization has been accused of using the port to import huge quantities of cocaine into Europe. “But Taghi and his guys are completely reckless, the most insolent criminals we’ve come across in so many ways and honestly he really would have tried,” the detective said. “He’s already been accused of killing witnesses, lawyers and journalists, so why wouldn’t he hire mercenaries to fight his way out of jail?”

Dutch police, who declined to comment on VICE World News, suspect Taghi’s organization ordered the murder of prominent Dutch journalist Peter de Vries last July in broad daylight outside an Amsterdam television studio, planning a unsuccessful attempt to assassinate another journalist, John van den Heuvelas well as killing the lawyer for Nabil Bakkali, former gang membera key witness in the case.

Taghi and his organization, including the first deputy Said Razzoukiwho was captured in Colombia in 2020 and extradited to the Netherlands last month, is being prosecuted under the “Marengo Trial”, a mafia maxi-trial against members of the ‘Mocro Maffia, a Dutch Moroccan criminal organization. Members of the group are accused of more than a dozen murders or attempted murders between 2015 and 2017, as well as the prolific transport of cocaine by the metric ton through Dutch and Belgian ports for distribution throughout Europe.

As Taghi and Razzouki were only recently captured by the police, the trial has only begun its preliminary stages and is expected to last for years, similar to the mega trial of ‘Ndrangheta members currently underway in Calabria, Italy. The testimony of former gang member turned police informant Bakkali will be crucial for the Dutch Crown prosecutor, the Belgian detective said, and it is widely expected that Taghi’s gang, many of whom are family members not detained, hopes one day to kill him.

“They have [Bakkali’s] lawyer, they got Peter [de Vries] who was trying to help him, his current lawyer is in hiding and Bakkali himself is probably stashed on a military base surrounded by special forces troops,” the Belgian police detective said. “Europe has not seen such a violent response from organized crime since the Cosa Nostra trials in the early 1990s.”

During the Italian “Super-Max” trials of the 1990s in Italy, prosecutors accused suspected Sicilian mafia in the hundreds, even as top prosecutors and judges were murdered by roadside bombs in Sicily at retail. The eventual success of the trials and the public outrage as the prosecutors’ deaths ultimately broke much of the Sicilian Mafia‘s control of Italy as the people turned against the Mafia.

According to the detective, what has spurred the rise in gang violence in the Netherlands and Belgium is the flow of cocaine through the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, two of the busiest in Europe. Europol estimates that between a third and a half of all cocaine in Europe, which is the largest market in the world, first arrives at one of the two ports.

“It’s a constant fight for control of the ports,” the detective said. “And it’s not just the amount of money involved – although it’s billions of euros and significant – but it’s also the power, the pure power. Control the ports and you can decide who in Europe becomes a cocaine dealer. Taghi considers himself a god, and in terms of dealing cocaine, maybe he is.

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