Surrendered passport and €50,000 bail seem no hindrance to flight as top cocaine suspect vanishes

New Spanish arrest warrant has been issued for Dutch gang boss Karim Bouyakhrichan, but affair is said to have ‘enraged not just the Policia Nacional, but also the Dutch security services’

There’s fury in the Netherlands after a Dutch gangland boss wanted in connection with threats to kidnap prime minister Mark Rutte and the heir to the throne, Princess Amalia, was inexplicably released on bail by a Spanish court – despite an official request to expedite his extradition home.

Karim Bouyakhrichan (46) – who “inherited” an extensive international drug-smuggling network with links to South America and the Balkans when his brother Samir “Scarface” Bouyakhrichan was shot dead outside a bar near Malaga, Spain, in 2014 – is now “in the wind”, whereabouts unknown.

Despite reputedly being the only billionaire Dutch gangster, Samir Bouyakhrichan was a casualty of the relentless turf wars between the “capos” of the largely Moroccan-run underworld who control much of Europe’s cocaine trade – worth as much as €10 billion a year, according to Europol.

With a well-honed reputation for violence, Ridouan Taghi, formerly the country’s “most wanted”, currently appealing a jail sentence of life for multiple murders after sentencing in a gangland trial in February, was widely named as one of those who stood to gain most from Samir’s demise.


There was also speculation that, with his elder brother removed, the “hunt” was on for Karim – who went to ground on the Costa del Sol, quietly extending his brother’s networks while the focus was on Taghi’s arrest in Dubai and high-profile trial in “the bunker” courtroom in Amsterdam.

Yet, Karim Bouyakhrichan was far from in the clear.

The bizarre series of events which saw him walk out of court on bail of €50,000 earlier this month and disappear without a trace began five years ago when Spanish police started investigating a complex international drugs money laundering operation with Karim at its head.

Intercepted messages revealed that Karim’s new reach went well beyond the Netherlands, Belgium and Morocco to the Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates and South America, particularly Columbia, Ecuador and Peru.

That was when the Spanish detectives involved began working with Interpol, placing Karim’s network under 24-hour physical and cyber surveillance.

Then, in January last, a meeting at Karim’s villa near Malaga was raided by scores of armed detectives who arrested him and five others, some of whom are believed to have been Spanish front men who helped him launder his millions through the local luxury property market.

Karim was charged with money laundering and with membership of a criminal organisation. Bank accounts containing millions of euro were frozen and Spanish police said 172 properties were seized, an indication of the extent to which the prime market had been undermined.

Surprised by Karim’s arrest, the Dutch authorities in The Hague filed an immediate extradition request, rapidly endorsed by a national court in Madrid, saying he was also wanted urgently in connection with threats to Rutte and Princess Amalia, the eldest child of the Dutch king and queen.

The exact sequence of what transpired next – described by Spain’s justice minister Fēlix Bolaños last Tuesday as “deeply worrying” – is now being investigated in both Spain and the Netherlands.

What appears to have happened is that officials in Malaga initially delayed the extradition by insisting that Karim first face charges in Spain for offences allegedly committed there.

Some accounts say the national court in Madrid overruled that decision. What is certain is that the Malaga court then allowed an appeal by Karim’s defence against the terms of his remand, ordering his release, pending extradition, on payment of bail of €50,000.

In court, the prosecutor specifically objected to the new bail terms as raising the possibility of flight, at which point Karim was ordered to surrender his passport and report in person every 15 days.

He paid the money, reported last on April 1st – and hasn’t been seen since.

A new arrest warrant has been issued, but one Spanish source says the “fiasco” has “enraged not just the Policia Nacional, but also the Dutch security services”.

The timing of Karim’s disappearance could hardly be worse. In 2022, Princess Amalia, who is now aged 20, was forced to withdraw from plans for a house share in Amsterdam, where she was due to begin university after police said they had “credible evidence” that she was at risk.

The princess’s first public appearance for almost two years was on April 19th when she met the king and queen of Spain in Amsterdam during a state visit. That new freedom may now face an immediate security review.

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