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11 tons of coke in Antwerp: the criminal network of an elderly ex-police chief

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Google translated from Dutch

11 tons of coke in Antwerp: the criminal network of an elderly ex-police chief

In September 2020, a record load of eleven tons of cocaine was intercepted in the port of Antwerp. One of the main suspects in Costa’s investigation into large-scale cocaine trafficking is former gendarmerie boss Willy Van Mechelen (78). Together with his business partner Tom B. (51) he is said to be the head of an extensive drug network. Several Limburg Bandidos and a notorious hooligan from Antwerp FC also belong to the organization, writes the Gazet van Antwerpen.

In the weekend edition, De Gazet mapped out the ‘network of the Uncle’, in which many names and connections are reviewed. From business partners, drivers and customers/investors to dock workers/collectors, a corrupt harbor master, old friends and counselors.

Guyana

The mega consignment of 11,000 kilos of cocaine that was found on September 27, 2020 in the port of Antwerp was hidden in five containers with scrap that had been brought in from Guyana. The catch is linked to the investigation into the former (corrupt) police chief Willy Van Mechelen, who was arrested shortly afterwards by the federal judicial police of Limburg.

Arrested in the Netherlands

Van Mechelen was sentenced to five years in prison in 2002 for allegedly organizing hashish transports with his criminal contacts. After his conviction, he fled to Africa and the Netherlands, where he continued to build his criminal career in complete anonymity for years. In 2014 he was arrested on the A2 in the Netherlands with 325,990 euros in a hidden space in his BMW. In November 2020 he was sentenced to fifteen months in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros. Along with him, 38 others were convicted in a large money laundering file.

Business Partner and Encrochat

Until his arrest, Van Mechelen mainly stayed in Thailand (where he has a girlfriend) and Tenerife. The Gazet van Antwerpen writes that the former gendarmerie boss is at the head of the criminal network together with his business partner Tom B. from Kasterlee. B. is a leader in the drug environment, but was never convicted of large-scale smuggling. Cracked Encrochat messages would indicate that he was operating under the nickname “Mister Zen”. B. is active at the Antwerp port company Mexico Natie and was also involved in, among other things, the export of second-hand cars to Africa.

bandidos

Also striking is the role of members of the Limburg motorcycle club Bandidos in the file. For example, the infamous Bandidos leader Geert F. from Borgloon in Belgium-Limburg with three other Bandidos members would have been seen by agents during a meeting with Van Mechelen and Tom B. in an Antwerp brasserie. The Bandidos are said to have invested in the mega batch of coke.

Colombian contacts

The former vice president of the Limburg Bandidos Marco H. is also a suspect in the case. H. can be seen as the right-hand man of Bandidos president Harrie RH has good contacts in Colombia where he would have lived for a while. He also has a Colombian wife. H. and R. used to be members of the infamous Nomads chapter of the Limburg Hells Angels. They were suspected of the notorious triple murder in Oirsbeek of their own club members, including president Paul de Vries, in 2004.

Harrie R. and Marco H. were recently sentenced to fourteen and 35 months in prison respectively for participating in a criminal organization and open violence against members of the Red Devils motorcycle club in Sittard. The aforementioned Geert F. was given ten months in prison for this.

Corrupt harbor boss

According to the Belgian judicial authorities, important roles are also reserved for suspects Ludo V. and the corrupt harbor boss Philippe VM in the investigation file. The former is seen by the judiciary as the forwarder of Tom B. and Willy van Mechelen who organized removals. The second, Philippe VM had a prominent position with Mexico Natie and other port companies. He would have ensured that the scanning of a suspicious container was postponed for a day, so that the organization could fish a large load of cocaine from the container in the meantime.

Hooligan headpiece

According to justice, another essential link in the organization is Nathan Steveniers, a son of the Belgian basketball legend Willy Steveniers. Nathan Steveniers is a notorious leader of the hard core of football club Royal Antwerp FC. He has previously been convicted of drug offenses and, according to the authorities, specializes in last minute removals of cocaine batches. Willy van Mechelen has been friends with Willy Steveniers for many years. His son Nathan, together with some Bandidos members, would have belonged to the “enforcers” of the criminal organization.

Preliminary research not yet ready

In Costa’s extensive investigation into large-scale cocaine trafficking, Lucio Aquino is also involved, a member of a well-known Belgian-Limburg family of which some brothers have already been convicted in the past . The preliminary investigation into the extensive drug case has not yet been officially completed. There are at least thirty suspects, but whether they will all be prosecuted is unclear.

Location: Netherlands
Source: crimesite
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