Suspected in 9 assassinations Ridouan Taghi arrested quietly in Dubai apartment

Ridouan Taghi
Ridouan TaghiPhoto: Politie

News of the arrest of suspected organized crime boss Ridouan Taghi brought a sense of pride and relief to officials in the Netherlands tasked with tracking down the fugitive. Taghi, who turns 42 later this week, is suspected of ordering nine assassinations and has given Dutch authorities the runaround for years while still controlling a vast criminal organization, police alleged.

The arrest took place overnight without incident at an apartment in Dubai, said Jannine van den Berg, head of the national police division, at a press conference on Monday evening. A second person was also arrested with Taghi, but that person was not wanted by police, authorities in the Emirate said.

It was police work, and not a tip, that prompted Taghi's capture, authorities said. There had been a 100 thousand euro award for information that led to his arrest.

Although the Netherlands does not have a formal extradition treaty with Dubai, "We are confident that the extradition will work out well," said Fred Westerbeke, head of the OM, the Dutch public prosecution service. Prosecutors are optimistic that Taghi will stand trial in the so-called Marengo hearings. The hearings involve nine street assassinations and several failed assassination attempts, as well as murder-for-hire plots that did not take place.

The "never-ending commitment" to arresting Taghi was unprecedented, said Van den Berg. "The goal was to deliver a major blow to this international criminal organization."

Catching him took a monumental effort from specialized experts across the police department, said Andy Kraag, head of criminal investigations. "Specialists worked on the investigation day and night for over a year," Kraag said at the press conference, adding that the "state of the art investigation" left no stone unturned. "Think of classic street work, but also financial research and high-quality investigation," Kraag said.

He said with vast wealth, people like Taghi are able to keep doling out cash in an attempt to buy their freedom and stay one step ahead of law enforcement. "These types of criminals mistakenly believe that they are untouchable," Kraag said. "We want to dismantle these organizations step by step."

Kraag pointed out that 17 people have been rounded up in the Taghi investigation.

The arrest was "excellent work," said Ferd Grapperhaus, the Minister of Security and Justice. "The rule of law dictates that we continue to investigate. And that people are held responsible for their actions."

Authorities in Dubai said that Taghi was believed to have entered the United Arab Emirates using false identification. Since early this summer he was rumored to either be in Dubai or on the island of Kish, off the southern coast of Iran.

Police and prosecutors in both the Netherlands and Dubai praised each other's work in the cooperative effort.

Ridouan Taghi turns 42 years of age on Friday.