- The Dutch police uncovered a torture chamber inside one of several shipping containers near a small village in the Netherlands.
- Six other shipping containers were found with handcuffs and chemical toilets. The police found instruments at the site that could be used for torture.
- Six men have been arrested on suspicion of planning kidnapping and hostage-taking.
- The intended victims have gone into hiding, the police said.
- Officers found the site after infiltrating and monitoring the encrypted messaging service EncroChat.
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The Dutch police discovered a torture chamber hidden inside one of several shipping containers in a rural area on the border of the Netherlands and Belgium.
Six men were been arrested on suspicion of planning kidnappings and hostage-taking, extortion and participation in a criminal organization as part of the investigation, according to documents from the Dutch National Police.
An investigation led police to a warehouse site with seven shipping containers inside. The containers were lined with soundproofing and were equipped with cameras, the report said.
Six of the containers could be used to hold people – they had handcuffs at the floor and ceiling, and chemical toilets.
The other had a dentist chair equipped with wrist and ankle straps.
Police found a stash of instruments including scalpels, pruning shears, saws, pliers, and tape. There were also black cotton bags that could be pulled over the head, police uniforms, and bulletproof vests.
The containers were near the small Dutch village of Wouwse Plantage, close to the Belgian border.
Police also found a shed in Rotterdam which held 53 lbs of MDMA, according to the report.
The investigation began in April, when police began to investigate a 40-year-old man from the Hague who they suspected was involved in drug trafficking.
“He led an existence under the radar, but our financial investigation revealed that he probably used a shed in Wouwse Plantage,” said national Police Chief Jannine van den Berg.
Police had been monitoring communications on an encrypted network called EncroChat since April, where suspects talked freely about their activities, according to a police report.
The suspects called the containers their “EBI” – a reference to the Extra Beveiligde Inrichting, a Dutch secure prison. The chats described very precise kidnapping plans as well as torture, police said.
“If I have him on the chair more will come,” one of the chats said.
The highly organized group was planning to use police uniforms, bulletproof vests, weapons and stop signs in the upcoming kidnappings.
The chats also helped the police figure out who the intended victims were, who have now been informed and have gone into hiding, officers said.
EncroChat has now shut down operations, according to Vice.
Sophia Ankel contributed reporting to this story.