Daniel Kinahan ally ‘El Rico’ jailed for operating assassination ring and laundering drug money
A top criminal ally of cartel boss Daniel Kinahan has been jailed for operating an assassination ring and laundering drug money.
Richard “El Rico” Vega, 47, was sentenced to 11 years in jail on Monday following a lengthy trial in a fortified court near Amsterdam airport known as “The Bunker”.
His trial heard evidence that Dutch-Chilean national Vega – whose nickname means “The Rich One” – had exchanged phone messages organising gangland murders with jailed drug boss Ridouan Taghi.
Judges were also told how Dubai-based Kinahan, 43, was a “regular contact” of El Rico and was in a video on a phone seized from him following his arrest and extradition to Holland from Chile in 2017.
In the footage were the Dublin crime boss, El Rico, Italian fugitive Raffaele Imperiale and another unidentified man.
Imperiale is wanted by authorities in Rome to serve an eight-year sentence for drug trafficking and is also believed to be hiding out in Dubai.
Co-accused Taghi is also separately on trial at “The Bunker” for allegedly organising seven murders, with his texts to El Rico forming a large part of the evidence against him.
He had been based in Dubai until his arrest there in December 2019 following a lengthy international police probe
As part of the investigation, cops in the emirate tailed two Amsterdam lawyers to a hotel expecting them to meet Taghi.
They were about to move in and detain the man who showed up when they realised it was Kinahan, Dutch media reported.
It is alleged that Kinahan, El Rico, Imperiale, Taghi and another imprisoned Dutch drug lord Naoufal “Belly” Fassih were part of a cartel which dominated Europe’s drug trade.
“Belly” Fassih was jailed for 18 years for attempted murder in Holland after he was extradited from Dublin in 2017.