A Dutch-Moroccan drug trafficker suspected of ordering the murders of several people has been arrested in the United Arab Emirates. Ridouan Taghi, often described as the Netherlands’ most wanted criminal, was arrested in a villa in Dubai following close cooperation between the Netherlands and Dubai police services. According to the authorities in Dubai, Taghi had entered the UAE with a false passport and a visa obtained at Dubai airport. They added that he used several fake identity documents to stay off the police radar.
Moroccan-born Taghi, 41, was wanted on international arrest warrants for murder and drug trafficking. The organisation he allegedly runs was linked to nine assassinations and a number of failed murder attempts, according to Dutch media.
Dutch police chief Erik Akerboom said Taghi’s arrest was of “great importance for the Netherlands” and followed cooperation between the two countries, reports the Guardian.
Taghi hit the headlines in September when the lawyer for a state witness in a case against him was shot dead near his home in Amsterdam. The Public Prosecution Service in the Netherlands was also building a case connecting Taghi and Caloh Wagoh motorcycle gang, which may have committed assassinations at Taghi’s behest. Prosecutors offered a reward of 100 thousand euros for anyone providing information that would lead to his capture.
Taghi was also suspected of being part of a “super cartel” that controls about a third of all cocaine trafficked in Europe. The cartel, which operates as a criminal conglomerate formed of Italian, Irish, and Bosnian organised crime syndicates, is believed to be responsible for importing 30 tons of cocaine annually through the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp.
Several hours after Ridouan Taghi’s arrest in Dubai, Dutch police arrested six other people allegedly linked to the criminal network in several cities in the Netherlands.
“Following [Taghi’s] arrest, eight searches were carried out Monday evening and six suspects were arrested,” the Dutch police said in a statement. According to Dutch media Taghi’s sister was arrested along with five men. They are suspected of possession of firearms, money laundering and possession of drugs.
The Netherlands is hoping to extradite Taghi in the coming weeks. However it remains to be seen whether he will be delivered to the Netherlands or Morocco where he is also wanted on suspicion of being linked to the murder of a Moroccan judge’s son.