Cabbies held for robbing Schiphol fares of up to €600 for rides to Amsterdam

Police, Marechaussee arrest Amsterdam taxi driver
Members of the Marechaussee arrest a taxi driver in Amsterdam West suspected of forcing tourists to pay outrageous sums. April 2017image: Openbaar Ministerie

Update, 5:09 p.m., 14 April 2017: Four of the suspects were remanded on Friday afternoon. This story was updated to include details about the remand, and one of the suspects after the public prosecutor's office in Noord-Holland provided more information to the NL Times.

Police in Amsterdam arrested eight suspects connected to a plot to excessively overcharge taxi passengers picked up at Schiphol Airport. In one case investigated by authorities, a Swedish man was ordered to pay 595 euros for a ride from the airport to Amsterdam city center, a taxi fare that normally costs between 40 and 60 euros.

Tourists from outside the Netherlands were targeted in a plot dating back to November 2016, when police noticed a surge in reports of taxi drivers demanding exorbitant amounts for rides to Amsterdam and the surrounding area. "When the passengers refused to pay, they were put under pressure in various ways," the prosecutor stated. In many of the cases, tourists were solicited by cabbies at the airport, a practice the airport and authorities tried to heavily restrict as those trying to get customers grew more aggressive.

The prosecutor noted the case of the Swedish man who had 300 euros in his wallet when he was told he owed nearly double. He accuses suspects of forcing him to relinquish 200 euros and paying the remainder with a debit card. He was then robbed of his camera.

A Japanese tourist was taken on what should have been a 15-kilometer ride to the Amsteldijk in Amstelveen, where he was ordered to pay 300 euros. The driver kept the doors of the taxi locked tight until the tourist relented and paid the bill.

Tactical arrest units including a team of police officers, the Marechaussee and the Noord-Holland prosecutor carried out raids on Tuesday and Wednesday at multiple locations to arrest the eight suspects. The principal suspect is a 31-year-old Amsterdam man who was already in a detention facility for another crime, the prosecutor's office told the NL Times.

During the course of this week's raids, police found a firearm and two electric stun weapons at the home of another Amsterdam suspect, 28, and a gun in the taxi of another, a 22-year-old man from Amsterdam. A 33-year-old man was also detained in Amsterdam.

All four of them were then remanded by a magistrate on Friday, the prosecutor said. They will remain in custody for at least another two weeks as the investigation continues.

Three more Amsterdam-based taxi drivers, aged 23, 26 and 31, as well as a 31-year-old cab driver from Zwanenberg were also arrested as accomplices. The four were questioned and released, but remain suspects in the case, prosecutors said. No details were revealed about the eighth suspect.

Similar cases previously made the news, including one customer in July who was forced to pay 195 euros for a ride to the Amsterdam city center. The passenger said he was recruited in the arrival hall at Schiphol. In November, soon after dozens of taxi drivers received fines for working at Schiphol without authorization, one cab driver was arrested for attempted manslaughter when he allegedly tried to strike a parking inspector with his car.

The Marechaussee arrested a 31-year-old man from Zwanenburg in that case. It is unclear if that is the same taxi driver who was detained earlier this week.