The inside track on how Dubai Police brought the 'Angel of Death' to justice

Ridouan Taghi, wanted on a string of serious criminal charges in the Netherlands, was hiding out in a luxury villa

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 17 FEBRUARY 2020. Colonel Saeed Al Qamzi, Head of Dubai police’s Interpol department. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Salam Al Amir . Section: National.

Police in Dubai revealed the extensive surveillance they carried out to track down one of Europe's most wanted men.

Officers said they staked out the luxury villa hideout of suspected Dutch crime lord Ridouan Taghi for 10 days as part of an operation with Dutch authorities.

Mr Taghi is accused of running an international drug cartel and is alleged to be involved in numerous murders.

Colonel Saeed Al Qemzi, director of the wanted persons department at Dubai Police, gave The National the inside story of how Mr Taghi was captured and said it was old-fashioned intuition that helped win the day.

"Ridouan Taghi was one of our latest arrests that came after intense investigations that led us to the house he had sub-let from another man.

"When we placed the house under surveillance for about 10 days, we noticed a man came out [every] night to toss trash, which confirmed that someone lived there."

He said Mr Taghi – who is accused of being the mastermind behind a hit squad called the Angels of Death – never left the property, which was under round-the-clock surveillance.

“Only the man who was helping him and providing him with food, would come out of the house to dispose of garbage,” he said.

Confident that Mr Taghi, 41, was living at the address, officers decided to swoop.

Police had only a 10-year-old picture of the accused but Mr Taghi made no attempt to hide his identity.

“He looked very different from the picture but he admitted he was Taghi and did not resist arrest,” Col Al Qemzi said.

Ridouan Taghi was deported from Dubai to the Netherlands to face a string of serious criminal charges, including murder

Despite Mr Taghi appearing compliant during the arrest, officers feared that he would try to flee before an extradition process could be started.

"When we were moving Taghi to extradite him to his country, it was around 2am but our commander-in-chief was with us step by step and advised we change the car to a more secure one to avoid any escape attempts," Col Al Qemzi said.

He admitted he was Taghi and did not resist arrest

Mr Taghi was flown to the Netherlands amid tight security before being transferred to Nieuw Vosseveld, a maximum-security prison for terrorists and murderers serving life sentences.

Many of the murders he is accused of having ordered were said to be revenge killings or related to turf wars.

It is also alleged that Mr Taghi is behind a third of Europe’s cocaine trade and is rumoured to have made €100 million (Dh398m) from drug dealing.

Dubai Police said his capture highlighted "the influential contribution of the UAE to fighting crime globally”.

Dutch prosecutors are now preparing him for trial.

Morocco also submitted an extradition request for Mr Taghi, who is a dual Dutch-Moroccan citizen, in connection with the murder of a judge’s son.

Mr Taghi was one of 292 international fugitives arrested by police in Dubai acting on Red Notices, alerts issued by Interpol to police across the globe to bring suspects to justice.

Of this number, 115 people were extradited to countries were they face charges or are awaiting sentencing.

Col Al Qemzi said police work closely with law enforcement all over the world to track down fugitives trying to evade justice in the emirate.

“Once information about a criminal being in another country is received by us, we make sure to pass it on,” he said.