A gang of drug dealers known as the Fishmongers were yesterday sentenced to up to eight years in prison and fined up to €40,000 for their part in an international cocaine trade and money-laundering of the profits.
The gang was headed by a family from Borgerhout in Antwerp, known as the Fishmongers because they also run five fish shops in the area. The trade was organised by Mohammed A., aged 73, the father-in-law of one of the three brothers also accused.
The charges against the four, as well as nine other members of the gang, concerned a haul of an unknown quantity of cocaine brought in through the port of Antwerp in July 2017. The charges also included the planning of other shipments, money laundering and criminal conspiracy. No drugs were ever retrieved.
The court heard how the profits from the trade were used to buy property, including an apartment in the Hilton hotel in Tangier. The court declared forfeit money and property worth €1.6 million.
Police had placed a wire tap on Mohammed A’s phone, as well as installing listening apparatus in his apartment in the Linkeroever area of the city. They listened as, apparently unaware of the need for discretion, he boasted of his involvement in the drugs trade dating back to the 1980s, as well as speaking openly about his gang’s operations.
Detectives also discovered he was running “a sort of Airbnb for drugs traffickers” from South America, who would stay with him and discuss business directly onto the recording equipment of police.
The son-in-law and his two brothers denied all charges, and described the older man as a fantasist. The court disagreed.
The older man was sentenced to eight years – one more than was requested by the defence. Two of the brothers were given six years and the other four years.