02 February 2024, by Emily Proctor

A study by Politie & Wetenschap has found that four out of five assassinations in the Netherlands are related to cocaine trafficking. The study, which focused on the 57 assassinations recorded in the Netherlands between 2016 and 2021, found that assassins are getting younger and are becoming less likely to have a known criminal history. 

Younger assassins are becoming involved in crime as young as 12

“That image has probably arisen from high-profile murder cases and the general image that perpetrators of crimes are becoming increasingly younger, but that is not the case with assassinations,” police chief Martin Stialsing told De Telegraaf. “The research does show that assassins often become involved in crime for the first time at a very young age – 12 or 13 years old. Poverty often plays a role at home, but also the neighbourhood where they grow up. Existing criminal structures in such a neighbourhood have a negative impact.”

The perpetrators of these assassinations have an average age of approximately 29 years old, and usually have a criminal history of around 27 crimes on their record before committing their first assassination. Despite this, the study also found that assassins in the Netherlands are getting younger on average, and they are more often unknown to the Dutch police as they do not have an extensive criminal record. 

Number of assassinations in the Netherlands falling

Around one in 12 murder cases involves an assassination in the Netherlands, but the number has been decreasing since 2017. Most assassinations take place during the night when it is dark, but there are some rare and high-profile cases where people related to organised crime networks, even in a perfectly legal way such as lawyers or journalists, have been gunned down in broad daylight. 

“The motive to kill someone more often comes from one’s own camp than from the opponents,” researcher Sheila Adjiembaks told De Telegraaf. “That involves a breach of contract, theft of money or drugs, talking to the police or someone from the criminal environment. Friendships in the criminal environment are very relative. The danger more often comes from within than from outside one’s own criminal record.”

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