Netherlands’ most wanted man arrested in Dubai

Ridouan Taghi, leader of ‘Angels of Death’ gang, arrested at a villa in Gulf emirate

Dutch police give a press conference on the  arrest in Dubai of Ridouan Taghi, who was wanted on international  warrants for murder and drug trafficking. Photograph: Jeroen Jumelet/ANP/AFP via Getty

Dutch police give a press conference on the arrest in Dubai of Ridouan Taghi, who was wanted on international warrants for murder and drug trafficking. Photograph: Jeroen Jumelet/ANP/AFP via Getty

 

Dutch police carried out a string of raids across the Netherlands on Tuesday after the country’s most wanted man was arrested in the Gulf emirate of Dubai.

Ridouan Taghi, who had posted photographs of himself on social media relaxing by the sea, was surrounded in a raid on the suburban villa where he had been living with his wife, six children and a number of “assistants” believed to have doubled as bodyguards.

Born in Morocco, Taghi is suspected of ordering the murder of a lawyer in a gangland drugs case in September. He was wanted on international arrest warrants for murder and trafficking drugs, particularly cocaine.

Taghi was living in Dubai under an assumed name and is believed to have entered the country using a false passport and visa.

Local police chief Abdullah Khalifa al-Merri said that although Taghi had no criminal record in Dubai, he was considered by Interpol to be “one of the world’s most wanted men” because of his alleged connections to “serious organised crime”.

He described Taghi as the leader of a gang based in the Netherlands known as the “Angels of Death”, “one of the most dangerous criminal organisations in Europe and Africa”.

Notoriety

Taghi’s notoriety went international in September when Derk Wiersum (44), a father of two young children and the lawyer for a prosecution witness in a case against Taghi, was shot dead as he said goodbye to his wife outside his home in suburban Amsterdam.

Mr Wiersum’s client, known as Nabil B, was one of 16 men charged in connection with five drugs-related murders and one attempted murder suspected to have been ordered by Taghi – but had opted to co-operate with the prosecution case.

Nabil B’s brother, Reduan, who had no criminal connections, was also shot dead last year when it became known that Nabil B had changed sides and posed a threat to Taghi.

Following Taghi’s arrest in Dubai there were raids on Tuesday on houses in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Vianen and Huis ter Heide in which six people – five men and a woman – were arrested.

They were being held on suspicion of money laundering, weapons offences and possession of hard drugs.

Police sources say Taghi’s wider family play an important role in his criminal network. A nephew has been arrested in connection with the Wiersum investigation. Two brothers are in jail in Morocco and two sisters have previously been questioned.

The Netherlands does not have an extradition treaty with Dubai. However, prosecutors say they’ve already lodged an extradition request and that, given the level of co-operation leading to the arrest, they’re confident it will be authorised.

“The Taghi arrest is of major importance to the Netherlands”, said police chief Eric Akerboom.