Saturday 16 November 2019

Urk fishermen face jail for role in cocaine smuggling operation


The five-strong crew of a fishing boat from the staunchly religious village of Urk were told on Tuesday they could be jailed for up to six years for their role in a cocaine smuggling operation.

The five are currently appearing in court in Amsterdam.They were arrested last June when customs officials and police found 261 kilos of cocaine on board their trawler in the North Sea.

The public prosecutor said the longest sentence should go to Montenegrin national Dalibor D who was allegedly flown in to direct the boat to the site where the drugs should be picked up.

The boat owner Johannes D faces three years in jail. He claimed in court on Monday to have been threatened by a major drugs gang and eventually gave into their demands to smuggle cocaine into the Netherlands.

He has refused to give more details about the threats but did say during questioning that the gang had confronted him with a list of his family members and a photograph of his daughter.

The trawler, named Z-181 or ‘Double Senior’, was apparently used to fish for lobster and flat fish. The Leeuwarder Courant said at the time of the arrest locals in Urk had for several years been puzzled by the extravagant spending of the family on their homes, despite the downturn in the fishing industry.

‘I asked myself what I was doing wrong,’ one fisherman told the paper. ‘Should I have been fishing in better place?’

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