THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Dutch police arrested six men after discovering shipping containers that had been converted into a makeshift prison and a soundproof “torture chamber” with a dentist’s chair, tools like pliers and scalpels and handcuffs, a high-ranking officer announced Tuesday.
Authorities said the police carried out the raid before the torture chamber could be used and alerted the potential victims, who went into hiding.
The macabre discovery was made last month by officers investigating leads generated by data from encrypted phones used by criminals. The communications network was recently cracked by French police. Detectives in Britain and the Netherlands have already arrested hundreds of suspects on the basis of encrypted messages.
Tuesday’s announcement gave a frightening glimpse of the increasingly violent Dutch criminal world involved in large-scale drug production and trafficking.
Dutch police said last week that their investigations, codenamed 26Lemont, based on millions of messages from EncroChat phones, had led to the arrest of more than 100 suspects and the seizure of more than 8,000 kilograms (17,600 pounds) of cocaine and 1,200 kilograms (2,600 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine, as well as the dismantling of 19 synthetic drug laboratories and the seizure of dozens of firearms.
On June 22, officers from the Dutch national police force arrested six men suspected of crimes, including the preparation of abductions and serious assaults. Detectives also discovered the seven sea containers converted in a warehouse in Wouwse Plantage, a small village in the southwest of the Netherlands, near the border with Belgium, according to a statement released on Tuesday.
They were notified by messages from an EncroChat phone, including photos of the dentist’s container and chair with belts attached to the arms and footrests. The messages called the warehouse “processing room” and “ebi”, a reference to a Dutch high-security prison. The messages also revealed the identities of the potential victims, who were warned and went into hiding, police said.
A video released by the police shows a heavily armed arrest team opening a door in the warehouse and discovering the makeshift prison. Another armed team arrested a suspect in Rotterdam.
“Six of the containers were intended to be cells in which people could be tied up and one container was intended to serve as a torture chamber,” said Andy Kraag, head of the national police investigation service, in a published video by the police, adding that the police the operation “prevented a number of violent crimes”.
A search in the containers led to the discovery of bags containing tools, notably hedge trimmers, scalpels and pliers. The tools “were probably intended to torture the victims or at least to put them under pressure,” according to the police statement.
Searching other properties, including what the police described as a base for criminals near the port city of Rotterdam, officers found uniforms and body armor, stolen vehicles, 25 firearms and drugs.
An Amsterdam court has ordered the six suspects to be detained for 90 days while the investigation continues.
“This is an excellent result of the 26Lemont survey,” said Kraag. “And, believe me, many more results will follow.”
Source: AP News