Dutch gangland figure arrested in Dubai for murders

Ridouan Taghi, 41, is wanted by Europol on charges of 11 murders and grievous bodily harm

Ridouan Taghi. Courtsey: Europol
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One of Europe's most wanted crime lords has been arrested in Dubai.

Ridouan Taghi, 41, who ran a gang called "the Angels of Death", had been sought in connection with 11 murders.

Police in the Netherlands had offered a reward of €100,000 (Dh409,000) for information leading to his arrest.

Dubai authorities conducted a joint operation with Europol and the Netherlands to arrest him at a villa he was living at in the city.

Ridouan Taghi's wanted poster on eumostwanted.eu. Image: Europol
Ridouan Taghi's wanted poster on eumostwanted.eu. Image: Europol

On Monday night, Dubai Police said they had "arrested the head of a dangerous criminal organisation in Europe and Africa".

Taghi's arrest highlighted "the influential contribution of the UAE to fighting crime globally", police said.

Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, commander in chief of Dubai Police, said Taghi entered the country through Dubai International Airport using a passport and visa that were not his own.

"Coming from the Netherlands, the suspect was able to enter the UAE before a notification regarding him was issued by authorities in his country," he said.

Taghi did not commit any crimes while living in Dubai, said Maj Gen Al Marri.

"He managed his daily affairs with the help of his acquaintances belonging to various nationalities," he added.

The Netherlands has no extradition treaty with the UAE, but the Dutch Public Prosecution Service has requested that Taghi be returned.

Dutch Chief of Police Erik Akerboom has praised the assistance from Dubai.

"Their help was essential," Mr Akerboom told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"I express a great deal of appreciation for the professional working methods of our colleagues and those in Dubai.

“The arrest is of great importance for the Netherlands. With their criminal activities, Taghi and his henchmen posed a threat to the rule of law. It is our duty as police to protect the rule of law and to remove threats."

A spokesman for the Dubai Public Prosecutor's office said the extradition is "expected to take some time".

Taghi, who has Dutch and Moroccan nationality, is believed to be behind a major cocaine smuggling operation at the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.

He has been linked to 11 murders after a drugs turf war in the country.

Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jalaf, director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Dubai Police, said Dutch authorities had earlier requested the force's help to investigate reports Taghi was in Dubai or neighbouring countries.

A team of top CID officers and personnel were then tasked with gathering information.

More than 100 detectives were involved in the manhunt to apprehend the gang leader.

Maj Gen Al Marri praised the professionalism of Dubai Police CID and its "instrumental role" in making the arrest possible. Cooperation between Dubai Police and Dutch authorities was also key to the success of the operation, he said.

Jannine van den Berg, police chief of the Dutch national unit, said: “In today's world, building strategic co-operation is more important than ever and it is through close international co-operation that it is possible to act effectively and decisively.

"His arrest is a good example of this."