Key Daniel Kinahan ally in European ‘super cartel’ jailed for life in Netherlands

Ridouan Taghi had lived alongside Kinahan in Dubai where they were among small group controlling about one-third of European cocaine market

A key ally of Daniel Kinahan in the European cocaine ‘super cartel’, Ridouan Taghi, has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Amsterdam. His sentencing came at the culmination of a six-year-long trial involving 17 defendants and six interconnected gangland killings.

Moroccan-born Taghi (46), who was a guest at Kinahan’s wedding in Dubai in 2017, was regarded as the Netherlands’ most wanted criminal, and one who was out of reach as he lived in Dubai, which had no extradition treaty with the EU.

However, in a move that Irish law enforcement hopes can be replicated for key members of the Kinahan cartel, Taghi was arrested in Dubai in December 2019. He was then very quickly deported back to the Netherlands on the basis he had entered Dubai on a false passport.

Once he landed back on Dutch soil, and though the Dutch were still making an application to have him extradited to face trial for several murders, he was arrested and could be dealt with like any other criminal.


Almost two years later, another man regarded as a key ally of Kinahan’s in the super cartel, Raffaele Imperiale, was also arrested in Dubai. Though the first extradition request for the Italian mafia boss was rejected, the Italian justice minister flew to Dubai to personally deal with the case and the extradition went ahead.

Taghi, Kinahan and Imperiale, who is currently in custody in Italy, were named by the US authorities as key figures in a Dubai-based super cartel behind about one-third of the cocaine imported into Europe.

Taghi has now been convicted of murder in six cases, as well as of attempted murder in four others, planning a series of further attacks, and being a member of a criminal organisation.

His trial – with a case file in excess of 100,000 pages, longer than in the MH17 murder trial which sentenced three men to life in November 2022 for the mass murder of all 298 passengers and crew aboard a Malaysia Airlines flight eight years previously – finally ended on Tuesday morning. Judges delivered their verdict in a high-security courtroom known as “the bunker”.

The presiding judge described Taghi as the “undisputed leader” of the criminal organisation behind the spate of killings between 2015 and 2017. He said he had used “extreme violence” to frighten those he targeted, and that “the terror exerted by him” was unfailingly effective.

The judge added that it was highly likely that Taghi would carry out fresh murders were he released. “For that reason, as a penalty and to protect society, only a life sentence is appropriate.”

The court found that Taghi ordered the murders of Ronald Bakker in 2015, Samie Erraghib and Ranko Scekic in 2016, and Hakim Changachi in 2017.

However, there was “no evidence” that he ordered the murder of Abderrahim Belhadj in 2016 and “insufficient evidence” that he ordered the murder of Martin Kok in 2018.

Taghi’s long-time associates and co-defendants, named in court as Said R and Mario R, were also sentenced to life in jail. And although prosecutors also sought life for three more of Taghi’s closest lieutenants, Achraf B was jailed for 29 years, Mohamed R for 27 and Mao R for 15 years.

The 11 other defendants in the case were also convicted, receiving sentences of between 21 months and 23 years, all lower than demanded by prosecutors because, said the judge, the case “took too long”. It should have taken a maximum of four years.

Nabin B, a key defendant who agreed to give evidence on behalf of the prosecution, received a 10-year sentence. “You fulfilled your part of the agreement,” the judge told him, saying that in the circumstances a reduction by half was justified.

Three killings were committed during the six years of the trial but did not form part of the proceedings.

Days after Nabil B was announced as a prosecution witness, his brother, with no connections to the underworld, was shot dead. In September 2019 his lawyer, Derk Wiersum, was shot dead. In July 2021 journalist Peter R de Vries, who had become his adviser, was shot dead.

Taghi – who will be eligible for parole after 25 years – was not in court for the verdict. Eight of his co-defendants were present.

  • See our new project Common Ground, Evolving Islands: Ireland & Britain
  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey is a journalist and broadcaster based in The Hague, where he covers Dutch news and politics plus the work of organisations such as the International Criminal Court