A highly regarded, senior non-commissioned officer from the Dutch military’s most elite special forces unit has been charged with supplying Holland’s most notorious violent drug trafficker with weapons stolen from the army.
The 42-year-old Sergeant Major, who has not been named, is a “well respected” figured in the Dutch military with long experience in counter-terrorism and commando operations, said a police official from the Netherlands speaking on condition of anonymity.
Prosecutors have linked the soldier to Ridouan Taghi, a Dutch-Moroccan man accused of running the most notorious drug gang in the Netherlands. They fear the soldier's training and access to sophisticated weapons will have bolstered the group’s capacity for violence.
“It’s incredibly sensitive,” said the official. “Highest levels of training and capability from an elite unit. It’s a political, military and criminal problem.”
Taghi, who is about 40 years old, was arrested in 2019 while living in Dubai under a false name, and charged with controlling one of the largest drug importing mafias in the Netherlands and committing or ordering at least 10 murders. He is also suspected of at least a dozen more.
Despite being held in the Netherlands’ most secure prison, Taghi has reportedly attempted to hire mercenaries to break him out of prison. Police and prosecutors strongly suspected he is behind the killings of multiple witnesses, and lawyers, as well as the daylight assassination of renowned crime reporter Peter R. de Vries in Amsterdam last summer.
Authorities believe Taghi’s organisation uses its influence over the ports in Antwerp in Belgium and Rotterdam in the Netherlands to control much of the cocaine trade
in Europe – the world’s largest single market for the drug – as part of a multinational cartel.
Lawyers Michael Ruperti, Frezia Aarts and the Public Prosecution Service in Arnhem confirmed the arrest of the non-commissioned officer, said the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, which first broke the news on Thursday. “On February 1, a Special Forces soldier was arrested. The man is suspected of preparing to import narcotics, embezzlement of military goods, involvement in the arms trade and illegal possession of weapons," the judiciary said.
The country’s Ministry of Defence has refused to comment on the case because of the top-secret nature of the Commando Corps, which is the top counter-terrorism, special operations, and strategic reconnaissance unit in the nation’s military.
The unit is the Dutch equivalent of America’s Delta Force or Britain’s SAS, an anonymous European special operations veteran who trained with Commando Corps told VICE World News.
The suspect “is qualified to train established soldiers to become elite, these are skills unusual in a military,” said the veteran. “From recce to assassination to sophisticated comms and [operation security], someone with this background would be invaluable. And the charges indicate even transferring military weapons to a cartel.”