Dubai extradites Antwerp drug linchpin, arrives in Belgium today

Drug kingpin Nordin el Hajjioui is on his way to Belgium, the office of Belgian Justice minister Paul Van Tighchelt confirmed on Friday. El Hajjioui was convicted in Antwerp in 2016, after which he fled to Dubai. Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to his extradition.

The 35-year-old Nordin El Hajjioui, also known as Dikke Nordin van den Dam ('Fat Nordin from the Dam'), was sentenced to 40 months in prison, suspended, for drug trafficking. Following his conviction, he fled to Dubai, where he continued to run drug smuggling operations.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the Dubai Court of Cassation had agreed to El Hajjioui's extradition. Van Tigchelt then travelled to Dubai to arrange the details of El Hajjioui's return. The extradition is the result of a treaty signed between the UAE and Belgium in 2021.

El Hajjioui is expected to land on a military plane at Melsbroek military airport later today. He will then most likely go straight to the investigating judge. He could face up to 20 years in prison.

More extraditions could follow

Other extraditions from the UAE are likely to follow. The Antwerp public prosecutor's office is looking for around 20 missing people suspected of cocaine smuggling and violence in Antwerp and Brussels.

"We have to strike while the iron is hot," Van Tigchelt said of his trip to Dubai earlier this month. "It is important to keep up the diplomatic pressure on the Emirates, which is now cooperating well with us."



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