By Cormac O'Keeffe
Irish criminals in the Netherlands will be “tracked down” and “handed over to the Irish authorities”, Dutch police say.
The warning was made after police there arrested eight people, including three Irish nationals, as part of a “large-scale drug investigation” targeting the Kinahan crime cartel.
In an operation in Amsterdam with the gardaí, Dutch police confiscated 175kg of drugs, a computer generating bitcoin, and two vacuum-packed bags of cash. Police suspect the criminals were using a ‘bitcoin mine’, or ‘bitcoin farm’, to pay for drugs with the digital currency.
The items were found in two apartments in the city, one of them protected with a reinforced metal door with 13 bolts.
Four Dutch nationals and a Belgian were also arrested and are suspected of being involved in supplying the drugs to the Irish criminals.
Gardaí were in the Netherlands for the operation, led by assistant commissioner John O’Driscoll of Special Crime Operations.
Dutch police said the arrests and searches were the result of a “legal assistance request from Ireland” under EU laws.
In a statement, police in Amsterdam said that, on the basis of the request, they began their operation.
The criminal investigation department conducted an investigation which led to arrests in various parts of the city on Wednesday.
“The co-operation with Irish colleagues is very good,” said Pim Jansonius of the Dutch police.
“Our signal to foreign criminals is very emphatic — Amsterdam is not the place to be.
“The person who does not understand this message is tracked down and handed over to the Irish authorities.”
Video footage emerged showing the moment three men were arrested by elite police units in Amsterdam as part of the operation targeting the Kinahan cartel.
Dutch police carried out a controlled stop of a vehicle the men were travelling in.
Armed officers masked, handcuffed, and blindfolded the men before taking them away in separate police vehicles for questioning.
The three Irish men include one in his 50s from Dublin’s south inner city, considered an importer and money man for the cartel.
The other two are from Limerick, one of whom is a serious drug supplier and who has been previously hit by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
The three are understood to have been brought to court by Dutch police yesterday evening and remanded for two weeks to allow for further investigation.
It was part of an Irish-Dutch operation which resulted in seizures in Ireland and the arrest of five people.
This included more than 300kg of cannabis herb, worth around €6m, which was seized by the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau near Ashbourne, Co Meath.
In Dublin’s south inner city, local detectives seized around 3.5kg of drugs, €6,000 in cash, and four improvised firearms.
This story originally appeared in the Irish Examiner.