Six men have been arrested after authorities discovered a makeshift prison and soundproofed “torture chamber” complete with a dentist’s chair and tools including pliers and hedge cutters.
Police in the Netherlands conducted the raid last month before the torture chamber could be used and alerted potential victims, who went into hiding, a high-ranking officer announced on Tuesday (local time).
The grisly discovery gave a chilling insight into the increasingly violent Dutch criminal underworld, which is involved in the large scale production and trafficking of drugs.
What was inside the chilling ‘torture chamber’
The “torture chamber” was made up of shipping containers found in a warehouse in Wouwse Plantage, a small village in the southwestern Netherlands and was uncovered by officers investigating leads generated by data from encrypted phones used by criminals.
The head of the police force’s National Investigations Service Ady Kraag said the operation had “prevented a number of violent crimes”.
“Six of the containers were intended as cells in which people could be tied up and one container was intended as a torture chamber,” Andy Kraag said.
A search of the containers uncovered bags containing tools including handcuffs and scalpels.
The tools “were likely intended to torture victims or at least put them under pressure,” the police statement said.
In searches of other properties, including what police described as a base for the criminals near the port city of Rotterdam, officers found police uniforms and body armour, stolen vehicles, 25 firearms and drugs.
Authorities were tipped off by messages from an EncroChat phone including photos of the container and dentist’s chair with belts attached to the arm and foot supports.
The messages called the warehouse the “treatment room” and the “ebi,” a reference to a top security Dutch prison.
The encrypted communications network was cracked recently by French police. Detectives in Britain and the Netherlands have already arrested hundreds of suspects based on the encrypted messages.
Dutch police said last week that their investigations, code-named 26Lemont, based on millions of messages from the EncroChat phones, had led to the arrest of more than 100 suspects and seizure of more than 8000kg of cocaine and 1200kg of crystal meth, as well as the dismantling of 19 synthetic drugs labs and seizure of dozens of firearms.
“This is a great result of the 26Lemont investigation,” Mr Kraag said.
“And, take it from me, many more results will follow.”
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