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DW: The power of the drugs mafia – Cocaine and the Netherlands

15/04/2022

April 13, 2022

Organized crime in The Netherlands is flourishing in tandem with the cocaine trade. A key witness is shot dead, along with his lawyer. A journalist is murdered in downtown Amsterdam. The drugs mafia earns billions and deploys increasingly brutal tactics.

For years the Dutch authorities thought they had this so-called Mocro mafia under control. But at the latest with the murder of journalist Peter R. de Vries, it has become clear that organized crime is shaking The Netherlands to its very core. “It’s a battle for power and billions. It’s about killing, to avoid being killed,” says the well-known Dutch lawyer Vito Shukrula.

Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the amount of cocaine being smuggled through the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg. With profits running into the billions, mafia gangs mainly operating from The Netherlands find it easy to bribe individuals at key points in the chain. For example, a crane driver at a port can earn 100,000 Euros for moving just one container to a particular position. For years now, investigators have used all the means at their disposal to expose and cut the supply lines. Several raids found weapons and huge hauls of drugs; many suspects were taken into custody.

The biggest trial in the history of The Netherlands has been going on since March 2021. In the dock at the Marengo trial: several leading members of the Mocro Mafia accused of murder. The cases highlight the extreme brutality of a criminal network that’s pushing the state to its limits. The reportage accompanies investigators going about their work at the port of Rotterdam, talks to defendants’ lawyers, meets former drugs couriers as well as the journalist Peter R. de Vries, who was later murdered. The story is one of corruption and violence.

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