The Italian Mafia in The Netherlands

By David Amoruso
Posted January 15, 2007
Copyright ©

The first time the Italian Mafia set foot in The Netherlands was in 1974 when a group of American mobsters came to Amsterdam, to investigate the gambling business there. The group was led by Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo and Dino Cellini. Cellini was a close associate of mob mastermind Meyer Lansky. Vincent Alo was an important Genovese Family mobster who oversaw and protected Lansky on behalf of the Crime Family. The American Mafia was looking to invest in the Amsterdam gambling world.

In the 1950s and 60s the Dutch gambling clubs operated in the shadows. The clubs had several security measures to ensure no cops got in, because of these security measures, only people who knew “the right people” could get in. In the 1970s heroin related crimes rose quickly and gambling had no priority in Dutch law enforcement. The Dutch gambling clubs came out of the shadows.

The man who ruled gambling in Amsterdam was Maurits de Vries, a.k.a. Zwarte Joop (Black Joop) born in Utrecht in 1935. De Vries owned several gambling and sex clubs on the Wallen (Red Light District) and was known as a tough guy with a heart of gold. De Vries eventually came into contact with the American Mafia and a partnership was made.

The first investment of the Mafia was $1 million into gambling club Cabala, which opened in 1976. Dutch crime reporter Bart Middelburg quotes an Amsterdam underworld source saying: “That million came from several mob Families. Peanuts to them of course, but the Cabala was the first professional casino in Amsterdam.” The Cabala casino was managed by Dino Cellini, his halfbrother Goff, and Fred Ayoub. The mob supplied casino personnel that had already worked in casinos on Cuba, The Bahamas, in England or Las Vegas. After expenses the casino made between 4 and 5 million dollars a year, which was divided fifty fifty between the Mafia and its Dutch partners.

In the 1980s the Mafia invested $5 million in gambling palace Club 26. Club 26 was an idea of De Vries and the mob hesitantly invested. Club 26 was more luxurious and much bigger than the Cabala. The mob thought it would be asking for trouble, they would be right. Cops raided the club, and in 1983 both the Cabala and Club 26 were destroyed by a fire in which 13 people died. The fire was started by a lone nut case, which emberrassed the mighty De Vries. De Vries’ empire was crumbling. In 1986 De Vries died of natural causes.

In the 1970s the Banda Della Magliana (BDM) from Rome also set up shop in The Netherlands, around and in Utrecht. These members of BDM were on the run from Italian authorities and considered The Netherlands a safe haven. This would be the case for a lot of mafiosi who came to The Netherlands during the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. The Netherlands also is an important drug route for the Italian Mafia. Rotterdam is the world’s largest port and due to its central position in Western Europe, The Netherlands is a perfect base from which to ship drugs into and through Europe.

Two high profile Mafiosi who were arrested in The Netherlands are Filippo Cerfeda and Sebastiano Strangio. Both men were bosses. Cerfeda was boss of a Sacra Corona Unita clan and was on the run. He didn’t keep a low profile though, he was managing a drug ring and committed several murders. Cerfeda was arrested in Ridderkerk in the spring of 2003. Strangio was a boss of the ‘Ndrangheta, and was running his drug line with Colombia from Amsterdam. He was arrested in October 2005.

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