Fruit firm firebomb gang leader is jailed for nearly 20 years

Ali G in court. Illustration: Aloys Oosterwijk ANP
Ali G in court. Illustration: Aloys Oosterwijk ANP

The main suspect in an investigation into attacks on people who worked at a fruit importation company, which unwittingly became mixed up in a cocaine smuggling operation, has been jailed for 19 years and 10 months.

Ali G was found guilty of ordering attacks on the fruit firm’s staff and, the court ruled, had orchestrated some from behind bars. Three other members of the gang were jailed for between two and nine years, one teenager was sent to juvenile psychiatric detention centre and three people were found not guilty.

The attacks began in 2019, shortly after workers at the De Groot Fresh Group found 400 kilos of cocaine hidden among a shipment of bananas and handed the drugs over to the police.

Almost immediately afterwards, board members began receiving intimidating text messages, demanding payment of €2.5 million in bitcoin. A mistake by the public prosecution department resulted in a list with the names and addresses of De Groot workers being made public, and then the trouble started in earnest.

In total, 20 separate incidents have been linked to the initial attempt at blackmail, including arson, shootings and firebomb attacks on homes.

Some 25 people have been arrested since the start of the investigation, mainly youngsters in their early 20s who had been recruited to carry out the attacks. The attacks took place at night at people’s private homes and two were lucky to escape with their lives after their farm burned to the ground.

In April, seven other men were jailed for between 18 months and 10 years for their roles in the attacks.

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