Expatica news

Police, tax officials raid Vinkenslag trailer park

22 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — Police and tax office officials launched a major operation at the Vinkenslag trailer park in Maastricht on Tuesday. The raid comes after recent revelations that park residents are paying almost no tax.

It is not certain how many people are involved in the operation, but a tax spokesman said debt collectors are involved in the collection of tax debts. Officials were seen entering trailer homes with documents and up to 24 homes have reportedly been subject to checks.

Police have raided the Netherlands’ largest trailer park several times this year and six buses of special duty police entered the park on Tuesday morning. A group of special officers also took up positions outside the park, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

Officials from energy company Essent are also involved in the operation, possibly indicating the discovery of illegal cannabis crops and the illegal tapping of electricity.

Police are also conducting raids involving 110 officers at two trailer parks in the southern Dutch city Geleen. A spokesman said police were searching for cannabis crops and firearms. Tax officials are reportedly not involved in these two raids.

Police had discovered at least 15 plantations and a loaded gun was also found. Thirteen people have been arrested on charges of cannabis cultivation and illegal weapon possession charges.

Meanwhile, the residents of the Vinkenslag park have reacted angrily to the raid and confiscated and destroyed a camera belonging to a freelance photographer.

Finance State Secretary Joop Wijn admitted to MPs in March that a special fiscal regulation applied to Vinkenslag residents stipulating that they only paid 3 percent in tax. He also admitted that Hells Angels gang members enjoyed a similar type of arrangement.

Wijn promised drastic changes, asserting that the Treasury always collects tax debts, with the help of police if necessary and in spite of violence of threats. He also said a special unit would be set up to confront troublesome tax evaders.

The Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, demanded from the junior minister an action plan outlining how the government intended to crackdown on tax evasion.

About 100 residents of the Vinkenslag trailer park blockaded the A2 motorway at Maastricht on 14 April this year in a spontaneous and angry reaction to tough regulations that city Mayor Gerd Leers imposed on the park.

Police raided the entire park the next day, arresting the ringleaders of the protest and dismantled several cannabis-growing operations.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news