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Police in the Netherlands made two separate stops that led to a combined discovery of over 2,700 kilograms of illegal fireworks. Roughly two thousand kilograms was found after a 29-year-old in Enschede was found carrying boxes of the explosives to his car.
The man was quickly detained, allowing police to open an investigation into how he obtained the fireworks. That led police to two separate locations where the illegal material was discovered.
“A large part of the material seized is heavy explosives,” police said in a statement. The male suspect was later released after the official report was completed and filed.
Four days later, police patrolling the N322 near Deest stopped a delivery van, where officers found 705 kilograms of illegal fireworks. Authorities detained a 37-year-old Landgraaf man, and a man from Heerlen, aged 24.
The car was stopped at a checkpoint at about 9:30 a.m. “During the subsequent check, the officers saw large boxes of fireworks upon opening the back door of the van,” police said.
“The men were arrested and the fireworks were transported by a special company with two [vehicles] to a designated storage location,” police stated. The 25 boxes were entirely filled with heavy explosives, including mortar bombs.
“If one goes, they all go,” officers said about the fireworks. The two suspects caught in Deest, Gelderland, about 115 kilometers southwest of Enschede, were scheduled for a remand hearing in front of a magistrate on Tuesday.
The police arrested eight people on Tuesday morning as part of a large investigation into illegal arms traders who allegedly distributed hundreds of weapons over the last four years, the Rotterdam police said on social media and in a press conference later in the day. There were 14 raids as part of the police operation, including two business properties and a dozen homes.
The raids and arrests were related to gangs who supply weapons used in sensational crimes, according to Rotterdam regional broadcaster Rijnmond. "We think we have rounded up this gang," said Petra Willemse of the Public Prosecution Service (OM). She reportedly referred to them as a "wholesaler for criminals."
The arrests include a 32-year-old from Capelle aan den IJssel, and four from Rotterdam. An informant in a criminal network led to the the investigation into the 32-year-old, who has been surveilled since September 2018, Rijnmond reported after a press conference held by the police and prosecution service.
All of those arrested are Dutch citizens between the ages of 22 and 42, according to Hart van Nederland.
Raids were conducted in The Hague, Capelle aan den IJssel and Zeist, among other places. Police showed off four high-powered firearms during the press conference. At least two weapons were seized on Tuesday along with 60 thousand euros in cash.