Fugitive crime boss suspect Ridouan Taghi arrested

Ridouan Taghi with a sketch aged to show what he may look like today
Ridouan Taghi with a sketch aged to show what he may look like todayPhoto: Politie/Opsporing Verzocht

Police in the Netherlands announced the arrest of Ridouan Taghi on Monday. The 41-year-old wanted fugitive was taken into custody in Dubai, police said. The OM, the Dutch prosecution service, has requested the extradition of Taghi from Dubai.

Officials did not immediately release when he was arrested, or how he was taken into custody, though sources told Emirates media outlet Khaleej Times that he entered the country using a false identity. Taghi, who turns 42 later this week, was thought to be hiding out in the Persian Gulf for months, either in Dubai, or on the island of Kish off the southern coast of Iran and about a two-hour boat ride from Dubai. It led police to make an appeal to the vacationing public last July to keep an eye open for Taghi and his alleged right-hand man, Said Razzouki. Unnamed sources told newspaper the Telegraaf last month that they believed the net was closing in on Taghi.

Taghi was wanted for ordering multiple murders and assassination attempts. He and the organization he allegedly runs were tied to nine assassinations, and several failed murders or canceled attacks. He was implicated by the prosecutions key witness Nabil B., whose attorney, Derk Wiersum, was murdered at his home in Amsterdam this past September. The Public Prosecution Service in the Netherlands was also building a case connecting Taghi to motorcycle gang Caloh Wagoh, which may have committed assassinations at Taghi's behest. Prosecutors offered a reward of 100 thousand euros for anyone providing information that would lead to his capture.

"With their criminal activities, [Taghi] and his henchmen pose a threat to the rule of law. It is very important for us as police to protect the rule of law and to remove threats," said Erik Akerboom, the Chief of Police in the Netherlands, in a statement.

Taghi was also suspected fo being part of a "super cartel" that controls about a third of all cocaine trafficked in Europe, according to newspaper AD. The cartel was believed to be operated from Dubai, responsible for at least 30 thousand of an estimated 100 thousand kilograms of cocaine annually through the Port of Rotterdam with members of Italian, Irish, and Bosnian organized crime syndicates.

Dutch authorities said that the Taghi's arrest would not have been possible without the help of their counterparts abroad. "I have a great deal of appreciation for the professional working methods of our colleagues and those in Dubai," Akerboom said.

Both Taghi and Razzouki were among the most wanted criminals in the Netherlands, and both men were on the Europol list of the 55 most wanted criminals in the European Union. The have been wanted in the Netherlands for years.

“In today's world, building strategic cooperation is more important than ever and it is precisely through close international cooperation that it is possible to act effectively and decisively," said Jannine van den Berg, a the head of the national police unit in the Netherlands.