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Liverpool gangster 'The Maniac' behind Dutch grenade and hostage plot; Court documents reveal how top-level European drugs boss called on a man from Liverpool in his hour of need.

Byline: Joe Thomas

A gangster known as "The Maniac" was drafted in by a Turkish drugs lord in a desperate bid to recover millions of pounds lost when a massive heroin shipment was intercepted.

TheLiverpool criminal - referred to as "that crazy Englishman" - threatened to throw a grenade into a family home then plotted to kidnap a woman so she could be held hostage at a Dutch farm.

His planswere busted when police stopped him in a car with cable ties, black gloves and a tracking device after detectives tapped the phone calls of his underworld associates.

Court documents obtained from The Netherlands detail how a man with "an accent from Liverpool" was a feared enforcer with an international gangland reputation.

His role in a shocking extortion and kidnap plot came to light in a case that proceeded through the Court of Rotterdam.

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The man, who the documents do not name but do confirm he was born in Liverpool, became involved in a high-level feud between a top-level European crime boss and a businessman in April 2017.

The gangster came into contact with 'The Maniac' after a 1,100kg heroin cargo - hidden in a shipment of ovens sent to the Belgian port of Antwerp from Iran - was intercepted by customs officers.

They removed most of the multi-million pound Class A haul then tracked the container to its destination - listening as panic set in among the gangster's foot soldiers as they realised the heroin they had been paid to unpack was missing.

The Turkish gangster blamed the seizure on the businessman whose firms he had been using as cover for the drugs imports.

It later emerged that his suspicions the businessman had tipped off Belgian officials about the heroin shipment were correct.

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To make matters worse for the drug lord, the heroin seizure came just one month after another massive importation had fallen through.

The loss of a 1,300kg consignment of cocaine - hidden in bananas and sent from Colombia - made the heroin bust a disaster.

Terrified of a backlash from his South American contacts, and out of pocket over the heroin seizure, he set about attempts to retrieve [pounds sterling]12m of losses he believed he needed to be removed from the hit list of his Colombian suppliers.

Plotting from jail after being arrested over the heroin shipment, he tried to force the businessman to hand over [pounds sterling]12m or take the fall for the heroin.

And while his incarceration may not have ended his scheming, it did allow for his conversations to be secretly monitored.

That was when officers began to hear of an English-speaking man referred to in court documents as being "a maniac".

His shadow was first cast on proceedings on April 18, 2017 during a conversation about kidnapping the wife of the businessman.

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Tapped conversations unveiled plans for The Maniac to contact an associate of the businessman on April 21 and warn he had men outside the home of his father-in-law.

He requests someone from the businessman's family contact him.

That same evening Dutch police received reports three men in black had been seen outside the Rotterdam home of the father-in-law. Days earlier three men in black had climbed a fence and looked into the home.

Police warned the father-in-law and his family go into hiding.

The same night that warning was issued The Maniac, through a translator, rang the associate of the businessman again.

He was overheard explaining "he just entered the house of the wife [of the businessman] and that there were children".

He said that had there been no children a grenade would have been thrown into the home.

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Instead he says he will launch a grenade attack on a restaurant linked to the businessman if no-one sends him his phone number.

The threat leads to The Maniac receiving the phone number of the businessman's father-in-law.

In a midnight call he tells him: "We respect you and your children. But if there is no payment, we will take action, the house will be blown up."

The Maniac says he has 10 people ready to enter the father-in-law's home should he give them the green light and tells the father-in-law his family is liable for the businessman's [pounds sterling]12m debt.

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The father-in-law eventually agrees to meet The Maniac at a cafe.

"I thought I better go to these people [if] they could go to my house," he later told the courts.

At the meeting The Maniac, speaking through a translator, calls on the father-in-law to make the transport boss pay back the missing millions.

The father-in-law later explained: "He pulled out a telephone and showed me a picture of me and my grandchild.

"He showed me a photo of my address, torn from a mail item.

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"He told me [where] my son works and [that he] leaves the house every day at 6.30am.

"They know that because he picks up their child at the end of the day. He also showed me something he put under the car of my daughter [the wife of the businessman]."

The item was a tracking device.

Hours after the meeting The Maniac was stopped by police in a Skoda Octavia. Officers found a tracking beacon, tie wraps - including two sets bound together to make handcuffs, black gloves and a host of mobile phones.

The discovery, along with the tapped conversations, helped prosecutors build their case against The Maniac - which featured a plot to kidnap the transport boss's wife and hold her hostage in the cellar of a farm, potentially for months.

Late last year he was sentenced to three years in jail for extortion, plotting to take a hostage and attempted extortion.

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The Turkish gangster received 14 years for his role in the heroin and kidnap plot. He was also jailed over the cocaine plot - even though the drugs have never been found.

The businessman was also prosecuted after an investigation established he was involved in the failed cocaine plot.

This came despite him arguing he should have received protection for tipping off police about the heroin shipment.

He had claimed he only became involved in drugs after the Turkish gangster kept increasing the interest on a loan he had made to help the transport boss renovate a restaurant.

Unable to wipe out his debt, he said he agreed to allow his company to be used by the gangster.


Credit: Getty Images

A general view of shipping containers and cranes in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Credit: Getty Images

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe covering 105 square kilometres or 41 square miles and stretches over a distance of 40 kilometres or 25 miles. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Credit: Dutch police

Drugs being seized as they pass through Antwerp is not uncommon. Belgian customs officials discovered this 1808kg haul of cocaine in a banana shipment from Colombia. It was subsequently linked to a gang that included four men from Liverpool

Credit: liverpool echo

The Court of Rotterdam. Image taken from Google Street View
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Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUNE
Date:Jan 6, 2019
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