At the end of January 2015, one of the most sensational trials in recent Dutch history began: the case of “Mocro Maffia”, a name coined by the Dutch press for the active gangs in the capital who have bloodied the streets of Amsterdam since 2012. According to the weekly crime magazine Revu, in less than ten years more than 20 deaths have been left on the asphalt.
From Willemstad (Antilles) to the Pijp
The story of the “Gomorrah” in Amsterdam is multi-ethnic and intertwines immigrants and second generations. In the middle there is everything: nicknames (“Popeye”, “The mayor”, “The man without a shadow”, “Pirki”, etc), violence, firearms, and rivers of cocaine. It really seems like we’re describing the Netflix series Gomorrah but instead it’s a true story from Amsterdam.
According to Revu, it all began when Gwenette Martha – probably the most famous criminal in the capital – arrived as a child in Amsterdam from Curacao with his mother. They established themselves together with Giovanni, Martha’s older brother, in the Pijp district which was then a difficult place.
The young Martha was a promising soccer player who even earned the attention of Ajax. Martha trained during the day but at night he and his friends devoted themselves to petty crime. His soccer career ended quickly but the other side of his life would only grow darker…Martha’s team of petty criminals soon evolved into a real gang.
Revenge is a dish best served cold
A month after his 18th birthday, Martha’s life changed forever: on an evening in 1992 outside the Escape nightclub at Rembrandtplein, a fight with a rival North African gang became like a scene from the Wild West. Moummie, an affiliate of the rival gang, shot Martha’s brother Giovanni who died in his arms. From that day forward, while dealing with thefts and robberies, Martha eagerly waited for the right time to settle accounts with his brother’s killer.
Meanwhile, the gang of the young Antillean grew and among his loyalists was Najeb Bouhbouh, a North African known as “De Burgemeester” (The Mayor). The robberies were left to junkies and stragglers while Martha’s gang invested the proceeds of those actions into monopolizing the cocaine market and the emerging ecstasy market.
They took Amsterdam
As with all criminal affairs, the Martha clan grew too quickly. In ten years the Antillano became the boss of Amsterdam and other ethnically homogenous crime groups, and they endeavored to get their hands on one of the most attractive drug markets in Europe. But sometimes empires crumble from within. Although in 2003 Martha finally defeated the quest which had tormented him for years by executing his brother’s murderer, the first signs of decline were evident when his trusty BouhBouh was shot dead.
By the beginning of the millennium, no rivals had come to hit as high as the Martha clan. He was the next target, the boss. Another ten years passed and although the “King of Amsterdam” was still firmly in command of the capital’s cocaine market, there was another complication: a conflict with his other most faithful, Houssine. In those years another clan had emerged from the criminal underworld. It was the gang headed by Benaouf A., from Eindhoven, a criminal group that grew quickly and tried to contend with the King to control the marketplace.
Martha cartel against Benaouf A.
One May night in 2013 at the Amsterdamse Scheepvaartsmuseum, the situation boiled: during the Waterfront dance party, a social event involving both renowned soccer players and members of the criminal underworld, the “treasurer” of the Benaouf clan was shot. According to a security guard, Surailie I., cousin of Gwenette Martha, “calmly” approached Souhail Laachir, one of the associates of the Eindhoven gangster, and fatally shot him. Then Surailie I. reholstered his weapon and quietly walked away. In September 2017, Surailie I was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
This murder was ordered by men of Benaouf A. in retaliation for the slaying of Bouhbouh. The reason for Bouhbouh’s murder was typical of the mafia: someone from the rival clan had to avenge the intrusion of Bouhbouh in a 2012 affair involving 200 kilos of cocaine worth around £14 million which had arrived at the port of Antwerp. This murder is considered by the press and investigators to be the beginning of the Mafia war in the capital, masterfully told in the bestseller “Mocro Maffia”.
But the real goal was certainly not his right hand man: the Benaouf clan wanted the boss. Having escaped an attempted murder in December 2013, Martha became paranoid: he rarely went out and only walked around with a bodyguard and a bulletproof vest. He knew he had lost ground but the conversion to Islam – which he said gave him comfort to the spirit – and the birth of his son had probably reduced his ambitions of power. And they had let his guard down. In May 2014, while he was eating a kebab in Amstelveen with two friends, Gwenette Martha was hit by a barrage of bullets fired from a racing BMW. This time luck didn’t help him. With the death of the Antillean boss, the mafia war still in progress began in Amsterdam.