Amsterdam is an ideal hideout for British and Irish criminals, who see Amsterdam as the world’s drugs supermarket. Not only does the city have established drugs- and prostitution networks, but also good transport connections and large numbers of British tourists and expats among which other Brits don’t stand out. A gangster will pay £24,000 for a kilo of pure cocaine in Amsterdam, (which costs £1,750 in the Dutch Antilles), and once he manages to slip it into the U.K., he can double his money. From 1972 to 1996 many IRA men hid in Amsterdam because of its multicultural nature and the fact that nobody there would ever ask any questions. Not all of these men were able to make an honest living there, so they resorted to illegal activities.
British Ambassador Paul Arkwright told Sky News: “We understand why Holland, and Amsterdam in particular, is a place for fugitives to head for because it is close, English is widely spoken and there is a large ex-pat community in which to hide. “But the Dutch police are getting good at catching these people and sending them back to the UK. They don’t want them here.”
It is easy to see why British criminals would feel at home in Amsterdam because the city centre is dotted with familiar retailers such as McDonalds, H&M, Body Shop and countless English and Irish-themed pubs. The licensed sex and cannabis trade provides an underworld for newly-arrived criminals to exploit, although the Dutch government has tried to rid the country of its city-sleaze reputation.
From Spain to Amsterdam?
Now the Spanish police and other international police agencies have done the groundwork and built good cases against Christy Kinahan, the undisputed godfather of Irish organised crime and drug importation, then we may well see a major shift in the way drug dealers do business, and from which country. Spain is no longer an easy touch and large-scale drug importation will no longer be tolerated by the authorities. It could close Marbella and the surrounding areas almost overnight and see them being abandoned by Irish criminals. What is the point in living somewhere if it is not a safe place from where to operate? In the wake of the raids there was a mass exodus from Marbella, with the more senior criminals moving further up the coast to digest what had happened and assess its potential significance.
A Spanish judge froze the assets of Freddie Thompson and Gary Hutch – a nephew of ‘The Monk’ Gerry Hutch – and indicated he wanted to talk to them about the 2008 murder of their friend Paddy Doyle near Malaga. This almost certainly means that both men will not be setting foot in Spain for the foreseeable future so they will now have to find a more relaxed country to base themselves in. Other criminals will inevitably be forced to do likewise. Property belonging to Thompson and Hutch was searched in Spain last week, but the two men were in the Netherlands and avoided arrest.
There is now a good chance that Amsterdam will re-emerge as the new drug-dealing base of choice but the Dutch police are no pushovers and are very experienced in dealing with the drug cartels. Time will tell but we may well and truly have turned a corner, with the balance of power shifting from the dealer to the authorities for the first time in a long time.
On August 6, 1982, police officer Jaap Honingh was killed by convicted British criminal Alan Reeve, after Reeve was caught shoplifting in an Amsterdam liquor store.
The most well known British criminal who operated in Amsterdam, was Roy Adkins, from South London, who was top gangster Klaas Bruinsma’s second in command for many years. He was liquidated on September 28, 1990, in the Nightwatch bar of the American Hotel in Amsterdam, by the Yugoslav mafia. It was said that Bruinsma ordered the liquidation.
In 1995 the notorious Liverpool gangster and drugs baron Curtis Warren (“Cocky”) settled in the posh village of Sassenheim. He was then the 461st wealthiest man in the U.K. On October 24, 1996, the Dutch police arrested him, and many top-level gangsters in his organisation were raided. Cocky was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and another 4 years for killing a Turkish inmate. Curtis Warren was released on June 14, 2007, and returned to Liverpool.
Early 1998, the Irish drugs baron and gangster George Mitchell (“Penguin”) was arrested in Amsterdam, after being caught in stealing 5 million pounds worth of computer parts. After his release he stayed in Amsterdam, and since 2008 the Irish, the British and the Dutch police are after him for wholesaling and smuggling cannabis to the U.K. and Ireland. In 2008 fugitive George Mitchell was believed to be worth £15.3 million. In 2009 an Amsterdam police detective said, “We not only want to arrest George Mitchell but we want to break him down financially and destroy him for ever. Dutch top criminals are very close to British and Irish criminals.”
On June 3, 2000, Irish heroin wholesaler Derek Dunne (“Maradonna”), once a famous football player, was shot dead with 7 bullets in his house in Amsterdam, where he lived with his wife and two children. Dunne was held responsible for the heroin cut with toxic wound botulism, which killed more than 30 hardcore junkies in Ireland, Scotland and Liverpool in May, 2000.
On February 10, 2001, Irish gangster John Cunningham was arrested in front of his house in Amsterdam. Cunningham was one of the most successful Irish drug dealers in Amsterdam. Ironically, Cunningham, who kidnapped Jennifer Guinness in 1986, was a friend of Amsterdam gangster Jan Boellaard, one of the guys who kidnapped Freddy Heineken in 1983. Ten years after he was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the kidnap of Jennifer Guinness, John Cunningham escaped to Amsterdam, with a British passport in the name of Steve Hall.
Ian Fitzgibbon and his older brother Jason, both convicted heroin dealers from Liverpool and leaders of one of the most ruthless and dangerous organised crime gangs on the Merseyside, were arrested in Holland in 2006, on suspicion of trying to flood the U.K. with heroin.
On February 24, 2009, the body of Keith Ennis, a drug dealer from Dublin, was found in an Amsterdam canal. He was butchered and his body parts were stuffed in a suitcase before they dumped it in the canal. Detectives believe that Ennis was killed by West Dublin gangland figures.
Anthony Mills, a wholesale drug dealer from London, is well known in the Amsterdam gangland. On March 18, 2010, Mills, one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives and suspected of being the organiser of a £62m international drugs smuggling ring, was arrested in Amsterdam. Anthony Mills is connected with Terrence Bowler, Peter Moran and Mark Kinnimont.
Terrence Bowler, 40 from Kingston-upon-Thames, Peter Moran, 37, from South London, and Mark Kinnimont, 39, from Surbiton, are the leaders of a gang of skunk smugglers, who use the Flora Holland market near The Hague to hide their drugs in the hundreds of container lorries with flowers that are daily taking the ferries to the U.K.
On June 10, 2010, six criminals from rivalling drug gangs from Liverpool, one of them being Paul Woodford, were arrested in Amsterdam, where they wanted to fight matters out. Three automatic riffles, a revolver, a pistol and ammunition were found in their dwellings. Half of the drugs in the streets of Liverpool are from Amsterdam, and the Amsterdam police have the Liverpool gangs, who are building up their empires in the city, as one of their top targets.
On August 24, 2010, the Dublin gangster John Traynor (“Coach”) was arrested by the Amsterdam police. Traynor was on the run from the U.K. police after his escape from prison 18 years before. In Amsterdam Traynor acted a Mr Fix-it for expat Irish and British mobsters. He regularly hosted summits for them in Chinese restaurants in the Red Light District. Their favourite hangout was the New King Mandarin restaurant in the Zeedijk.
Roughly around the same time the Amsterdam police arrested Peter Mitchell (“Fatso”), Traynor’s old buddy from the John Gilligan gang, who has been seen with “Fat” Freddie Thompson and Gary Hutch in the three weeks preceding his arrest. In 2008 Thompson was forced to flee Spain, because a Russian drugs gang wanted him dead. The Spanish police have issued European Arrest Warrants for them. Fatso Mitchell’s Spanish villa is up for sale with an asking price of €1.2m and while Fatso was hiding out in Amsterdam, probably terrified that whoever tried to kill him would come back to finish the job, his wife returned to Dublin, swapping a life of Spanish luxury for her old job as a street trader.
On December 3, 2010, Hell’s Angel Rob Schilder was shot dead by British gangsters in a conflict over a shipment of drugs. Two of his fellow Angels managed to get away on their motorbikes. It’s clear that another act of revenge is inevitable.
In 2009, Noel Cunningham, one of Scotland Yard’s most wanted men, was caught in Amsterdam after several years on the run. He escaped from a prison van in 2003 as he was escorted from Brixton Prison to face trial accused of a £1 million armed robbery.
In December 2010, wanted fugitive Essex kick-boxer Adam Hart, a suspected cocaine trafficker, was also arrested in Amsterdam. He allegedly tried to eat a mobile phone sim card as police discovered thousands of euros stuffed in his pants.
In Amsterdam, the cocaine market is dominated by two groups: the Columbian Cali-cartel and the Liverpudlian mafia. Liverpudlians and Colombians operate together in Amsterdam to disseminate cocaine across the continent. Liverpudlian expat dealers in Amsterdam, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Turkey and South America – allied to the Merseyside mafia – have been warned to prepare for a mafia-style bloodbath, because they are understood to have shot at least one senior Colombian cocaine emissary in Amsterdam, while the Columbians have liquidated Colin Smith (“Smigger”).
On February 4, 2011, Sean Devalda, 24, was arrested after Amsterdam Police, working with the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca), targeted a property just outside the city.
In an operation involving armed officers, divers and a helicopter, the local police found Devalda, a gun, a number of expensive watches and €50,000 in cash. In graphic scenes videoed by Dutch police the door was blown off Devalda’s Amsterdam bolthole by an explosive. The property was shelled with smoke bombs before the fugitive was frogmarched out of the building at gunpoint.
Sean Devalda is the fifth of seven suspects identified by Project Gulf – a long-running initiative targeting people believed to be behind organised crime in Salford – to be arrested. Devalda was extradited back to Britain and later admitted possessing a firearm with intent to commit an offence and conspiracy to rob over a videolink from prison. He was sentenced to six years after the court heard he played a lesser role in the conspiracy to rob the G4S van, which fell apart after police followed the gang tracking it from its Agecroft depot to Accrington.
Four of the other Project Gulf targets were tracked down and arrested in Spain, but Devalda’s brother Stephen, 27, and Andrew Moran, 28, – who are wanted in connection with an armed robbery in Colne, Lancashire in 2005 – are still on the run in Europe.
So who are we looking for today?
Mark McKenna, from Liverpool, has been missing for three years. He escaped from prison where he had been sentenced to 15 years for supplying class A drugs.
James Nicholas Tarrant was convicted for conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis and possession of a firearm and ammunition. He has not been seen since 2009, when he absconded after being granted conditional bail.
Brian Waite, from Leeds, took part in a £25,000 cash van robbery and was jailed for 11 years for robbery, arson and handling stolen goods. He has been on the run since 2006. He is also known as Michael Birch and Anthony Waite. He was sentenced to 11 years in jail but escaped in 2006 and has been unlawfully at large since. We certainly don’t want to see hus ugly face in Amsterdam.
Dion Kendrick Lee is wanted by Lancashire Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in relation to offences of conspiracy to supply class A and C drugs and conspiracy to possess, sell or transfer firearms and ammunition.
Paul Christopher Finnigan, from Liverpool, was arrested in 2009 on two counts of conspiring to supply class A and B drugs. He was bailed to return to a police station but failed to attend.
Mark Fitzgibbon, from Liverpool, is accused of the possession and supply of amphetamines and cannabis.
Belino Gripshi, originally from Albania, is thought to be a member of a drug trafficking network. He’s wanted for conspiring to supply cocaine and money laundering offences.
Dejan Shega, from Albania, is thought to be a member of a drug trafficking network. He’s wanted for conspiring to supply cocaine and money laundering offences.
While most of these men are suspected drug dealers, Rezgar Zengana is a convicted rapist who jumped bail in Scotland. He was convicted at the High Court in Glasgow in 2008 of raping a 25-year-old woman. He posed as a taxi driver and attacked her at a house in December 2006 after picking her up from a Christmas party. He has not been seen since July 2008.
Anyone who recognises or has any information on these individuals should contact Crimestoppers in the UK on or by visiting their website.
UPDATE October 9, 2013
A suspected international drug trafficker originally from Sheffield has been arrested in Amsterdam.
Craig Allen, 50, is wanted in connection with seizures of heroin and cocaine dating back to 2010, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
Allen was captured by a team of armed officers as he left a furniture store in the Dutch capital on Tuesday afternoon and UK authorities will now attempt to extradite him back to the UK.
He is the first fugitive to be captured abroad since the NCA, dubbed “Britain’s FBI”, was launched on Monday.
Officers from the NCA, South Yorkshire Police and the Dutch National Crime Squad were involved in the operation to track down Allen, who was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant.
It is believed he oversaw the importation of drugs while living in Thailand, the NCA said.
During a subsequent search of an apartment in Amsterdam, officers found four kilos of what is believed to be cocaine and 500,000 euro (£420,000).
Dave Allen, head of the NCA’s Fugitives Unit, said: “We believe this man, who is the first fugitive to be captured abroad since the NCA launched, is involved in the importation and supply of large quantities of drugs.”