Google translated from Dutch
For the first time in 20 years, a criminal civilian infiltrator has been deployed in the fight against organized crime. A controversial means of investigation and banned for a long time. If the case leads to a conviction, it is likely to be used more often.
Criminals who secretly infiltrate a crime gang at the behest of the police to gather evidence. It is a controversial investigative tool that was banned after the IRT affair in the 1990s. Under the direction of the police and the judiciary, infiltrators then smuggled tons of drugs into the country, from which they could keep the profits. The result: a major crisis in the investigative apparatus.
After a change in the law in 2013, the Public Prosecution Service has now for the first time deployed a criminal mole who infiltrated a drug network for almost 2 years that would smuggle speed from Friesland to Finland and Australia, among others. In this police investigation ‘Vidar’, a total of 22 suspects were arrested in March 2020 for trafficking in hard drugs, money laundering and illegal possession of weapons.
The arrests followed after a consignment of nearly 100 kilograms of speed was intercepted, destined for Finland. Among the suspects are two members of the Hells Angels (Harlingen, Finland) and a member of the Red Devils in Leeuwarden.
Code name A-4110
The criminal civilian infiltrator now deployed was codenamed A-4110 . It concerns a sixties from Leeuwarden, who has been active in the international drug trade for years. At the request of his supervisors, he not only infiltrates the two criminal motorcycle gangs, he also acts as a pseudo-buyer of speed and brings the suspects into contact with foreign undercover agents who pretend to be drug criminals.
During previous sessions, the Public Prosecution Service has always said that the deployment of the criminal civilian infiltrator has completely followed the new rules. The House of Representatives has imposed strict conditions on the use of the controversial investigative tool. It should only be used as a last resort, in heavy police investigations into closed criminal organizations. The infiltrator is not allowed to grow into the criminal organization and the Minister of Security and Justice must give special permission for this.
‘Used more often when the judge approves’
If the judge approves the evidence obtained by the investigative method in this case, then the criminal civilian infiltrator will be deployed more often. Professor of criminal law Sven Brinkhoff expects this: “Then it will probably become a tried and tested method. And I am not talking about ten or twenty cases a year, but I do expect that more cases will follow.”
In theory, the infiltrator can be a very valuable investigative tool, says Brinkhoff: “Because of course you get very valuable information first hand. But in practice it has also turned out to be an uncontrollable means. A method that can really affect the integrity of the investigation. .”
“Are you doing anything else?”
The criminal file in this case shows that A-4110 has been secretly working for the police for years. At the beginning of 2018, he is registered as a civilian as a police informant, when he runs into an old acquaintance on the street: Justin S., a member of the Red Devils. A criminal biker gang that maintains close ties to the Hells Angels. “I came across Justin by chance,” A-4110 declares at the judge. “I knew he was doing something, I mean drugs. Justin asked me: are you still doing something, are you still trading?”
But in an extensive statement to the detectives Justin S. claims just the opposite: “I am a regular citizen and did not engage in criminal matters. The police sent A-4110 to me and he himself came up with the idea of doing drugs. If A-4110 hadn’t pushed me to these facts, I would never have done anything.”
Provocation or not
Suspect Justin S. does not deny that he has smuggled drugs. “Of course drug trafficking took place. That is exactly what our infiltrator wanted to do,” says his lawyer Jan Hein Kuijpers. But according to Justin and a number of other suspects, it was a case of instigation by the infiltrator. “If Justin had not encountered the criminal civilian infiltrator, he would never have traded a crumb. He was just heavily provoked. And that is not allowed.”
That is why this whole matter must be dropped, says Kuijpers. The Public Prosecution Service believes that no suspects have been provoked in any way in this case. If, however, there is a question of prohibited incitement in this case, then the police and the judiciary will have a major problem. Brinkhoff: “If you talk about a certain crime in someone’s head: that really is the limit. Then we are talking about incitement. Someone had no plans for drug trafficking, but the infiltrator gives him the idea. If that can be proven, then it is forbidden incitement.”
‘The dogs don’t like bread here’
Crucial to this question are the first meetings that infiltrator A-4110 has with Justin S., in early 2018. Conversations in which, according to the criminal infiltrator, the suspect showed that he was actively looking for buyers of speed. Although many conversations between the infiltrator and the suspects are recorded, it is precisely these first encounters between A-4110 and Justin S. that are not recorded.
“The bad thing about deploying a criminal civilian infiltrator in this way is that the control is lost,” says lawyer Kuijpers. “You have to check strictly, record everything and supervise closely. That didn’t happen in this case. This is really something the dogs don’t like to eat.”
Professor of criminal law Sven Brinkhoff: “In retrospect, it is a great pity that there were no recordings of those first conversations. Now it remains the word of the infiltrator against that of the suspect. While these are crucial conversations when it comes to provocation or not. A missed opportunity.”
According to Brinkhoff, the biggest objection to the deployment of the criminal civilian infiltrator remains the controllability of the route. “Because how do you know whether that criminal civilian infiltrator really works for you and doesn’t also have a business next door?” That is why it must be clear to lawyers and judges afterwards exactly how the process went from A to Z, says Brinkhoff.
OM: no ‘trial by media’
Lawyer Jan Hein Kuijpers is and remains fundamentally opposed to working with criminal civilian infiltrators: “Society wants as many crooks as possible behind bars. Only those criminals have the property of not obeying the law. That’s why they are criminals. But police officers and law enforcement officers must abide by the law. And if that does not happen, then judges must intervene and draw consequences. And the latter unfortunately does not happen.”
When asked, the Public Prosecution Service does not want to give an interview and says in a written response: “The officers in this case have followed one clear line from the start of this case: full disclosure, in the courtroom. Everything the officers can say, they do during the hearings. We don’t want to get a trial-by-media accusation. We don’t want to get in the way of the court.”