A gang of taxi drivers operating from Schiphol airport have appeared in court charged with making tourists hand over extortionate fares and threatening violence if they did not pay up, the Telegraaf reports.
The eight-man gang, led by Tarik K (36), was arrested in April 2017. Four of them, including K, appeared in court at Schiphol on Tuesday.
K allegedly picked up potential clients he thought would be easy to ‘screw over’, mostly Asian tourists who did not speak the language and who were clearly on their first visit to the Netherlands. He would then hand them over to one of the taxi drivers in his gang.
The tourists were then threatened and sometimes even stopped from getting out of the taxi until they had paid the hugely inflated fare.
In 2016 a group of Chinese tourists was charged €485 for a trip from the airport to their hotel in the west of the city while a Swedish man who wanted to go to a hotel in the south east of Amsterdam was made to pay a whopping €600.
K, who usually accompanied the victims in the taxi, took €300 out of his wallet, confiscated his camera and forced him to take out more money via an ATM.
‘I had a nice conversation with him,’ K told the judge, ‘I did nothing against his will.’
The public prosecution department will publish its sentencing demands next week.
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