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Founding locationNetherlands
EthnicityPredominantly Dutch, other ethnicities include Moroccans, Surinamese, Dutch Antilleans, and Molluccans
Criminal activitiesArms trafficking, assault, drug trafficking, extortion, fraud, human trafficking, murder, theft.
AlliesBritish crime firms
Turkish mafia
Serbian mafia
Colombian cartels
No Limit Soldiers
Mocro maffia

The penose (Dutch: penoze) is the organized criminal underbelly in Amsterdam and other major cities in the Netherlands. Penose usually means the organisations formed by criminals of Dutch descent. It is a slang word coming from the old Amsterdam Bargoens language.

Origin of the word[edit]

Organized crime in the Netherlands goes back to the 18th century when organized groups of thieves, pimps and shady travelling salesmen created a cant language named Bargoens to communicate with each other.[1] Out of the language there arose a couple of new words which would become part of the Dutch folklore. Until this day the word penoze (which arose from Bargoens) is still used by some people to describe the Dutch underworld in which the organized crime bosses thrive.[2] The word is mostly used in Amsterdam, but has also spread to other big cities in the Netherlands such as Den Haag, Rotterdam or Eindhoven.

Organized crime in the Netherlands[edit]

The Netherlands is the biggest exporter of ecstasy in the world,[3] while Dutch gangs are a major exporter of cocaine, cannabis and a smaller exporter of heroin. In the drugs business they closely cooperate with British firms and Colombian cartels for the importation and exportation of ecstasy and cocaine,[4] while they cooperate with Moroccan drug barons in the Riffian areas and with Pashtun drug lords based in Pakistan for the importation of hashish.

While the term Penose was and still is used to describe the ethnic Dutch crime lords, it has been used in a broader context.

Criminal groups concerning the Penose[edit]

The penose concerns organized criminal groups with ties to the country of the Netherlands itself. Due to immigration there are strong Turkish, Chinese, Yugoslav, Russian, Albanian and Italian communities in the Netherlands. Criminal outfits such as the Turkish mafia, Triads, Serbian mafia, Russian mafia, Albanian mafia, and the 'Ndrangheta are not regarded as a part of the traditional Penose, although they're an active part of the Dutch criminal underworld nonetheless. The reason why Surinamese, Antillean, Moroccan and Ambonese groups are considered to be a part of the Penose is because their criminal groups were formed and based in the Netherlands, whereas the Turkish or Serb gangs are part of a criminal group based in their home country.

Dutch crime groups[edit]

Indigenous organized crime based in some of The Netherlands' major cities, mainly Amsterdam and The Hague, mostly has origins in the traditional working-class quarters. These small groups mainly consist of local career criminals that band together for their involvement in organized criminal activities such as extortion, loan sharking, prostitution and narcotics. Often these local criminals groups are strongly connected with, or in some cases even have an official membership to, outlaw motorcycle gangs such as the Hells Angels MC.[5][6]

Another type of indigenous organized crime is mainly based in the Flemish regions bordering the Netherlands, mainly located in the provinces of Limburg and Antwerp. The region is known to be one of the most important production areas for synthetic drugs such as ecstasy. It is home to organized criminal gangs active in the production, transport and distribution of synthetic narcotics and marihuana, as well as in the importation of hashish and cocaine, controlled by both local Flemish and Dutch criminal entrepreneurs.[7][8][9]

Moroccan crime groups[edit]

Out of the Netherlands' substantial Moroccan community also grew criminal gangs mostly involved in the trafficking of marihuana. This is due to the ties of some families to their area of origin, the Rif, which is a known hub of marihuana/hashish cultivating. Certain criminals have also progressed to the trafficking of cocaine. Armed robbery and prostitution are known activities of the Dutch Moroccan groups as well.[10]

Moluccan Kajahatan[edit]

The word kejahatan is Indonesian for 'committing crime' and has since become a synonym for Moluccan organized crime. Due to the Netherlands' large Moluccan Ambonese community kejahatan groups also exist in the Netherlands. Dutch Ambonese gangsters are involved in kidnapping, armed robbery, extortion and drug trafficking, especially the growing and illegally distributing of marihuana. An alleged criminal gang of Ambonese origin is Satudarah, a known one-percenter motorcycle club. Ambonese gangsters have traditionally also assisted other criminal enterprises.[11] Incidents with the so-called Tattoo killers, a Moluccan/Ambonese gang specialised in contract killing, have also been major news in the Dutch criminal underworld in recent years.[12]

Afro-Dutch crime groups[edit]

Criminal groups consisting of descendants of Afro-Surinamese and Afro-Curaçaoan immigrants exist in major cities in the Netherlands. While some of said groups are involved in petty crimes, other Afro-Dutch crime groups have been responsible for the more sophisticated trafficking of cocaine.[13] Since both Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles are known transit zones for the drug trafficking from Colombia, Curaçaoan and Surinamese crime groups based in the Netherlands have also formed alliances with said Colombian groups and have committed contract killings for them.[14] Prostitution, hijacking and ripdeals are known activities of Afro-Surinamese and Afro-Curaçaoan groups.

Gang wars over turf have appeared from time to time. The Amsterdam district Bijlmermeer for instance has been the scene of violence between two of its biggest gangs, the Hopi Boys and the Kloekhorststraat Gang.[15] Aside from these Netherlands-originated groups, gangs that originated in the Caribbean have also been able to set up shop in the Netherlands. The No Limit Soldiers gang, which originated in Curaçao, for instance now has bases in cities such as Rotterdam, where they're involved in gang violence and organized crime.[16]

Crips in the Netherlands[edit]

The Netherlands is the only country in Europe where the Crips have a significant presence.[citation needed] In the major cities of Den Haag, Rotterdam and Amsterdam Crip-gangs were formed in the 80's. There are many Crip-gangs in the Netherlands but only 12 of them are regarded as a serious criminal organization. The 12 criminal gangs are mostly composed of older adolescent males (in contrast to the majority of the street gangs which are composed of youths) who are involved in organized crime such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, prostitution, contract killing and extortion. The groups are mainly composed of Dutch Antilleans (mainly Afro-Curaçaoans) and Afro-Surinamese people.[17]

Notable Dutch criminals[edit]

  • Klaas Bruinsma trafficked hashish from Pakistan. His nickname was De Dominee (the Reverend) due to his habit of dressing in black and lecturing others.
  • Willem Holleeder was one of the perpetrators of the Heineken kidnapping in 1983. In the early 2000s, he extorted real estate trader Willem Endstra. Endstra was later killed, allegedly by Holleeder.
  • Cor van Hout was the mastermind behind the kidnapping of Freddy Heineken. After serving jail time, he went back into the underworld together with his brother-in-law Willem Holleeder. He was assassinated in 2003, following other unsuccessful assassination attempts in 1996 and 2000.
  • John Mieremet and Sam Klepper made up a successful duo in the criminal underworld. They were mostly involved in the hashish trade and robberies. In 2005, he was shot in Thailand.


  1. ^ "Bargoens voor beginners". Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  2. ^ "Woordenlijst-Waterloopleinmarkt". Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  3. ^ "The ecstasy capital of the world < Dutch news | Expatica The Netherlands". Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  4. ^ "Dutch Cocaine Trade : The perspective of Rotterdam cocaine retail dealers" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  5. ^ "Cookies op".
  6. ^ "Dick V." Panorama. Archived from the original on 2015-04-11.
  7. ^ "Portraits-robots des mafias en Belgique".
  8. ^ "België draaischijf van synthetische drugs".
  9. ^ jrosquin. "België grote producent van synthetische drugs". Het Belang van Limburg.
  10. ^ "Bijlage VIII - IV.7. Georganiseerde misdaad onder Marokkanen in Nederland". Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  11. ^ "Maluku Lifestyle Hyve -". Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  12. ^ "Tattoo-killer nieuw spoor in moord op motorhandelaar - Het Nieuwsblad". 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  13. ^ "Antilliaansdagblad" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  14. ^ "Geweld en liquidaties wekelijkse kost in Nederlandse drugswereld". 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  15. ^ "Moord Bijlmer in Fijne Buurt". 2013-09-09. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  16. ^ "De Curaçao-Holland connection | Crimesite Panorama". 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  17. ^ "Gangs in Nederland | Crimesite Camilleri". 2013-09-15. Retrieved 2013-10-27.