Busted: The Rotterdam drug cafe for Europe’s Mr Bigs
Paul Peachey reports on the quiet coffee shop where huge narcotics deals were on the menu
It boasts a wealthy but shadowy clientele, an invitation-only door policy and public reviews on the quality of the coffee are definitely not encouraged. The secrets behind one of the most exclusive cafes in Europe was revealed after police kicked down the door of what they claimed was a members-only club for drug cartel leaders where they would swap ideas over coffee and organise their illicit trade.
In the raid, on what police described as a one-stop shop for trade expertise, knowledge and contacts, officers discovered a cache of weapons, hundreds of thousands of euros, a cash-counting machine and dozens of mobile phones. A radio scanner and jammer and high value watches were also found inside the cafe in Rotterdam.
Despite the cafe sign hanging outside, a buzzer system and security cameras ensured that only established and known gang members were allowed inside. Officers believe that drug traffickers from Spain, Holland, South America and Britain all used the café, in a busy residential area, to thrash out financing deals and to organise the transport of drugs.
Two Turkish brothers who ran the cafe are in custody after a series of raids in Holland and Britain on suspected customers. The brothers were believed to be taking a commission for introducing other major players in the drugs world and the establishment was said to have operated for years.
Police in Britain were hunting for two men from Liverpool who were suspected of using the operations centre to orchestrate major drug importations into Britain. Police searched properties in Britain of Robert Stephen Gerrard, 50, and Michael Paul Moogan, 27, and believe that they could be on the run in mainland Europe or Britain.
Steve Baldwin, Regional Head of Investigations for the National Crime Agency, said: “This was a well-established set up which was open 18 hours a day. It appears you were only allowed in if your face was known. Taking it out of operation will have caused serious disruption to the activities of organised crime groups across the world.”
Further raids by officers from the NCA linked to the operation saw three men arrested in Britain. A 64-year-old from Hale, Greater Manchester was charged with conspiracy to import up to 80 kilos of cocaine a month since April. Two men, aged 36 and 47, from Essex were released on bail.
Dutch officers arrested eight more people in raids across Rotterdam, seizing nine handguns, two semi- automatic rifles, a cocaine press and €200,000. As one of the world’s major shipping centres, the city is a key hub for drug smuggling operations.
Rival criminal gangs have increasingly developed strategic alliances to share “best practice” and prevent deadly turf wars that attract police attention, a senior figure in the European police organisation told The Independent last year.
Europol’s 2013 Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment said cooperation between gangs helped them secure niche services. Some work, such as accessing corrupt officials, was subcontracted, it said.
Troels Oerting, the assistant director of Europol, said that sharing of logistics and expertise was a growing trend for gangs. “What we are seeing now is a level of exchange of best practice and good ideas,” he said.
The growing cooperation is highlighted by the estimate that 70 per cent of the major criminal gangs active in the EU, which are believed to total around 3,600, now operate on a multinational basis.
The Home Office believes that organised crime in Britain alone costs the country up to £40m a year, with drug smuggling remaining the most popular and lucrative area.
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...