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The Impact of Amsterdam’s Criminal Underworld on Footballers: A Focus on Quincy Promes

When Marylio V was escorted from his cell in Amsterdam’s district court on October 31, his alleged accomplice in a drugs bust involving 1,363kg (3,005lbs) of cocaine with a street value estimated at £65million ($82m) was nowhere to be seen.There was no expectation, however, that Quincy Promes, a Dutch international footballer with 50 caps, would show up.He did not appear at his previous criminal case either. That was in June 2023, when he was found guilty of stabbing his cousin in the knee at a family party where, the court heard, “the Hennessy flowed freely.”The 18-month sentence for that offence is yet to start because Promes, 31, has remained out of reach of the Dutch justice system, having stayed in Russia throughout the trial, playing for Spartak Moscow.Separately, according to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, Marylio V and Promes had arranged to smuggle two shipments of cocaine into the Belgian port of Antwerp via the Cap San Nicolas container vessel in January 2020.

 

The first batch, hidden in sacks of salt, which involved 650 blocks of cocaine, has never been found. The second batch had a logo of a tiger stamped on it and weighed in at 712kgs after being intercepted by Belgian police.Ahead of the full case, which is due to start in January 2024, Marylio V failed in his attempt to achieve bail, having revealed in court that he plans, without implicating Promes, to admit his guilt of a “small role” that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) claims was, in fact, much bigger.Among the judge’s considerations in this appeal was the defendant’s criminal record. Marylio V had already been sentenced to four years in prison in Belgium for importing 882kgs of cocaine on May 27, 2019.Quincy Promes, right, playing for the Netherlands in 2014 (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)He became the focus of another major investigation which took the code name “Porto” and centred on Promes’ suspected involvement in “the full cocaine trade”. It followed tip-offs in 2018 and 2019 that led officers to analyse encrypted correspondence involving BlackBerry mobile phones and EncroChat.It was during this investigation that officers heard Promes discussing stabbing his cousin. “Where did I hit him?” he asked a family member shortly after the incident, according to taped conversations. When he discovered that he’d hit his cousin in the leg, Promes thought it was lucky. “I didn’t aim at his leg at all, I wanted to put it on his neck,” he said, before adding: “Next time he will get bullets.” And to his father, who intervened, he suggested: “You saved his life. Otherwise, I’ll kill him. You understand that, don’t you?”

Though Promes was originally charged with attempted murder, it was downgraded to aggravated assault after the player’s lawyer argued that the evidence was not admissible as the warrant to tap his phone was originally issued due to an interest in his alleged “unrelated” drug offences.At a separate pre-trial hearing last summer, the court heard how Promes and Marylio V allegedly tried to import the cocaine into Europe in January 2020.On February 25, 2020, the PPS claimed that Promes informed other conspirators that “my previous delivery was a half failure. They came in two trays, one fell, one got jammed, so my whole profit was halved.”  Promes speaks to media at a Dutch training camp in 2014 (Koen van Weel/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)In the subsequent message traffic, prosecutors say that Promes confirmed he had paid part of the purchase price for the cocaine by writing, “My boys are on their way to Antwerp,” where couriers were directed to a shisha lounge. What followed was picture evidence, allegedly at the door of a warehouse, showing the trailer carrying one of the containers and the cocaine inside. When the cargo was moved by truck to Verrebroek, 20km north west of Antwerp, Promes is said to have encouraged the men. “Keep us informed,” he is accused of saying. “Get to work, boys.”

Never before has a Dutch footballer with the stature of Promes been charged with such serious offences. Yet an examination of the court hearings involving him is a reminder of the potential for overlap between the worlds of footballers and criminality in the Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular.Generally speaking, Amsterdam is a safe place. While Catania in Italy tops the European crime index, closely followed by Marseille in France, Birmingham and Coventry in England and Charleroi in Belgium, Amsterdam sits way down in 94th place. It also suffers from roughly half of the crime registered in New York City or London, for example. Yet the toleration of certain drugs, particularly cannabis, makes it a destination for suppliers, while Schiphol Airport is one of the biggest in Europe, and therefore a convenient meeting point for traffickers. In the deal that brought him to the attention of the law, the Dutch justice department believes Promes, who was born and raised in Amsterdam, invested €200,000 into the drug trade. In that deal, it was alleged that the convicted drug trafficker Piet Wortel and another well-known trafficker “earned €6million”.At the start of 2023, the PPS claimed Promes had paid a substantial fine to Wortel for a batch of drugs that was stolen by a rival gang. According to the PPS file, Wortel was also suspected of being behind the 2019 murder of former professional footballer, Kelvin Maynard, who was shot multiple times in front of a fire station in south-east Amsterdam, allegedly in revenge for the theft of 400kgs of cocaine.Both Promes and Wortel denied these allegations. While Promes’ lawyer described the suggestion his client had paid Wortel as “total nonsense,” Wortel’s representative insisted there was little evidence against his client over Maynard’s death, calling the claims “gossip and backbiting.”The PPS acknowledged in January 2023 that it still had “no round case” against Wortel, and two months later he was released from detention over these charges.It leaves the murder of Maynard as an unsolved case.

In 2019, his death received national attention, not necessarily because he was a footballer but because of the reaction of firefighters who were condemned for taking photographs of paramedics trying, in vain, to resuscitate him. These images were distributed amongst friends before finding their way onto social media. Kelvin Maynard, playing here for Burton Albion, was murdered in 2019 (David Rogers/Getty Images)Unlike Promes, Maynard’s career was unremarkable. He played top-flight football in the Netherlands but not for any of the leading clubs, before heading to Royal Antwerp in 2013. There he met Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, the former Chelsea and Netherlands striker who is now working with the England national team. Hasselbaink took Maynard to English lower-league club Burton Albion in 2014 when he began the first of his two spells as manager there.One of his former team-mates at Burton, who would prefer not to be named due to sensitivities around the manner of his death, remembers Maynard fondly because of his work ethic. He always seemed to be at the front of the running sessions, was smiley and sociable. He thinks he worked as a DJ in his spare time. Maynard seemed, “a really nice guy — you’d never imagine he’d get himself involved in anything like that.”According to reports at the time of Maynard’s shooting, he spent his last afternoon at a flat in the south east of the city. After bringing his wife and youngest child home, he returned to Zuidoost before parking his grey Volkswagen Golf near a metro station, where he met a group of Surinamese men wearing Nike tracksuits, who drove off in a dark blue Volkswagen Polo. He was followed on a black scooter by two men, and when he stopped at a red light, they approached from the side before firing several rounds at him from close range. Though he tried to accelerate away, he met his end in the forecourt of the fire station before the images of that moment went viral. The fire station where Maynard died in 2019 (Sem van der Wal/AFP via Getty Images)His family suggested that he was a youth worker who had almost completed his college education. Yet a detailed report in the Het Parool newspaper a day after the shooting suggested Maynard and his friends, which included Genciel ‘Genna’ Feller, who was murdered just over a fortnight earlier in Curacao, had recently bought “plenty of very expensive things, including luxury cars. Maynard posed in a photo with an oversized wad of banknotes.”The author of that…

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