New wave of criminals operating in Holland are violent

The deaths of Irish nationals in drugs-related murders are beginning to figure among official Dutch government statistics

The deaths of Irish nationals in drugs-related murders are beginning to figure among official Dutch government statistics. In the past two months four Irish men have been shot dead in the Netherlands, representing about 2 per cent of the annual rate of crime-related murders.

The Dutch say the crime-related homicide rate is 1.2 per 100,000 of population, or about 190 per year. In this State last year there were 14 crime-related murders or 0.4 per 100,000. The Republic's low level of serious crime is shown in comparison with the US rate of around eight murders per 100,000.

Some South American countries, particularly those like Colombia that are beset by drug-related crime, have murder rates of between 30 and 50 per 100,000 of population.

Still, the killing of Derek Dunne in Amsterdam at the weekend and the three other young Irish men near The Hague a month ago show that Irish criminals in the Netherlands are coming under increased pressure from two sides: from successful joint operations between Dutch police and the Garda and from stiff competition from a new wave of eastern European organised criminals who have been arriving in the country in numbers since the end of the Balkans conflict.

According to a report on organised crime drawn up by the European police intelligence and liaison agency, Europol, the Netherlands has a serious problem with drug-importing and exporting gangs. Rotterdam, as the largest port in the world, and its surrounding cities have attracted major drug gangs. The Dutch reckon gangs from 39 countries are operating on their territory, attracted by liberal immigration and drugs laws.

Dunne was possibly the Republic's main heroin-supplier, buying drugs from intermediaries in Amsterdam who, in turn, bought from Turkish wholesale suppliers.

Dunne and his associates in Amsterdam sold heroin of quite high purity in batches of a half-kilo upwards to the Dublin-based dealers. A half-kilo cost the Dublin dealers around £30,000 and a kilo £50,000. The drug was then diluted and sold at an eventual "street" price of maybe 10 times this amount.

Dunne would have been in a position to supply much larger consignments, but sending heroin in half-kilo to two-kilo amounts reduces the risk of large-scale losses. One of Dunne's couriers was arrested 18 months ago after he had been noticed travelling to Amsterdam every week for months. He had a kilo of heroin when Customs officers arrested him.

Large-scale middlemen, who are aware of their domestic markets, have dropped prices in recent years to ensure potential addicts are not put off by the price. In Dublin heroin has fallen to around half the price it was selling for a decade ago. This has contributed to the continuing rise in addiction cases in the city in recent years despite the efforts by the health and justice authorities.

Dunne and his associates, however, have been the target of a string of joint operations by the Garda National Drug Unit and the Dutch anti-drugs police, who have developed a very close working relationship.

Several batches of heroin Dunne sent to Dublin in the past year had been seized. A half-kilo seized at Dublin Airport last year, bound for a heroin-dealer in Ballyfermot, is thought to have come from Dunne. As a result of that seizure two young couriers, Darren Carey and Patrick Murray, were murdered just before New Year and their bodies dumped in the Grand Canal.

There have been at least two other heroin seizures at the airport since, and Customs and gardai have made several arrests.

The apparent success of police action against Dunne may have been causing difficulties for him and his associates. Local reports say the group that arrived at his home in the Amsterdam suburbs early on Saturday may have included a Yugoslav.

According to Dutch police the Yugoslavs, who have been increasingly involved in drugs and other forms of organised crime in the Netherlands, are more likely than most other groups to engage in violence and the use of firearms. They tend to work alongside or for Dutch drug-dealers and are often used by the Dutch criminals for assassinations and other reprisals against competitors in the trade.

It was also reported that the three young Irish men who were tortured and killed in Scheveningen on April 29th were also in dispute with Dutch and Yugoslav criminals. Two men have been arrested in connection with these killings. It is believed the three were murdered, possibly by Yugoslavs working for a Dutch criminal, because one of them was suspected of passing information to the police.

It is believed he was blamed for passing information which led to the seizure in March of £8 million worth of ecstasy, amphetamine and cannabis and 15 guns in Amsterdam. The drugs were destined for Britain and Ireland and the guns might have been destined for dissident republicans.