The police and justice department have noticed a link between some serious crimes in the Eindhoven area. “Drug syndicates are doing violent battle with each other. That has to stop,” reads a statement on the Dutch police department’s website.
The police have, therefore, set up a special webpage. Criminal investigators are asking the public for their input into at least ten investigations. “There have to be people who know more than they’re letting on. They are just afraid to come forward,” reads the site.
Since March 2018, the Eindhoven region has had to deal with regular, serious public violence. A lot of extensive investigative work has recently been done, mostly behind the scenes – from analysing camera images and carrying out trace investigations to getting witness statements.
All the cases were investigated separately, but similarities between the various cases were also examined. “It’s of the utmost importance to first gather all the relevant information,” says Ron van Brussel. He runs the criminal investigations division in East Brabant.
“Then, only do we draw conclusions.”According to Van Brussel, this work hasn’t only yielded a great deal of information. It’s also resulted in invaluable insights. In the course of the investigations, similarities between different cases were discovered. For example, based on witness statements and camera images, the shooter, in some cases, seems to be the same person.
“These investigations show that, in many cases, criminal contacts play a direct or indirect role. We suspect there are conflicts between several criminal networks in the Eindhoven area. These quarrels are then settled using extreme violence. This isn’t to say the victims in these cases were all criminals or have contact with the criminal world.”
At least 10 cases are linked
“There are parallels in at least ten cases,” says Van Brussel. “And during several investigations, the department received specific information. It supports the idea that rival criminal networks members are targetting each other.”
Several of these investigations have reached dead-ends. “Despite this, we continue to analyse information to map out the networks and underlying relationships. Connections can be made from there, and the same people often keep popping up.”
All seems well now, but according to Van Brussel that might just be the quiet before the storm. “Over the past few months, we’ve received several very serious tips about impending scores that need to be settled by criminals in the regions. Sometimes particular names are mentioned. We then warn potential perpetrators as well as victims.” The police then open a criminal investigation too.
People don’t want to talk
It also isn’t always easy to see what sparked specific incidents. “Partly because not everyone’s eager to talk to us. We see that more often in serious crime investigations. That’s one of the reasons why we are seeking the public at large’s help.”
The investigator emphasised that people can come forward entirely anonymously. “All information will be treated confidentially,” he says. “It’s of the utmost importance to us to get that information. It could be important, and in some cases, might even be the final pieces of the puzzle.”
The Public Prosecutor’s Office is also very keen to close cases. “It is completely unacceptable that criminal conflicts have such serious consequences. Gun violence, in itself, is a serious issue,” says Chief Public Prosecutor Heleen Rutgers.
‘We won’t tolerate this’
“But, when it takes place in public, there is enormous risk to innocent bystanders. That won’t be tolerated.” In murder and attempted murder cases, the justice system and police are offering rewards for tips leading to a successful prosecution. The reward amount can be found on the website.
On the special investigation page, each case is also briefly described. There are photos unique to each crime scene too. In some cases, there are specific investigative questions. “Let’s hope many new tips come in because this really has to stop,” concludes Rutgers.
Please note: All the information and questions are in Dutch.
Translation: Melinda Walraven