Greg R. enthusiastically greets an experienced crime reporter in the courtroom. The armed guard at the door is punched. The 73-year-old R. has gray spiky hair, he drags his leg. There is no longer a jacket from motorcycle club Caloh Wagoh around his shoulders, but a dark blue sweater.
Greg R. is considered a nestor in the underworld. “He knows everything and everyone,” his lawyer Christian Flokstra tells the judges. Before the police arrested R. at the end of 2018, according to his lawyer, he was involved in ‘collections in the criminal circuit’: collecting claims. “He never got involved in contract killings.”
R., born in Surabaya, is one of the five suspects against whom the Public Prosecution Service demanded life sentences last week. They were said to be part of a criminal organization that specialized in ‘murder to order’.
The Eris criminal case against, among others, those five suspects is one of the largest liquidation investigations in the country ever. A total of 17 suspects are on trial for their role in five murders in 2017, committed in less than eight months. The suspects, almost all members of the now banned motorcycle club Caloh Wagoh, are said to have also prepared a dozen other liquidations. According to the Public Prosecution Service, the order for most of the murders came from Ridouan Taghi, who is not being prosecuted in this case. Chester Gregory R. knows the visor of justice from the outset. “It is possible to plot a murder, for a fee, at the motorcycle club Caloh Wagoh. The discussions about this are taking place with Delano and Greg R,” reads the underworld tip at the start of the criminal investigation.
Court drawing of Greg R. Drawing Aloys Oosterwijk/ANP
More than three years later, it is clear that the judiciary sees Delano (nickname ‘Keylow’) as the leader of the murder organization. He was involved in organizing all the murders. R. would have been his confidant. He was ‘Triple OG’, Original Gangster, with Caloh Wagoh and arranged a shed in Mijdrecht for Keylow’s “murder commandos”. Justice states that he facilitated contract killings and was also involved in the instigation of a murder. And although he did not pull a trigger and did not coordinate or organize an assassination attempt, justice also demands life for R..
“The criminal career of Greg R. must be definitively stopped,” says the Public Prosecution Service, which describes R. as a “old-timer”. It points to the approximately thirty years in prison that he was sentenced to during his criminal career.
Greg R. is known as the head of a criminal family. Before his twentieth birthday, he fathered two sons who also ended up in the criminal environment. Father R. was so far mainly convicted for drug offences, but according to the Public Prosecution Service he “appears to have followed his son Jesse at a later age”.
Jesse R. was sentenced to life in prison in 2013 for his involvement in contract killings. And although according to lawyer Flokstra “Jesse can in no way be compared with the client and his role and position in the criminal circuit”, the parallels between the criminal cases of father and son are striking.
Son Jesse was one of the prime suspects in what was previously the largest liquidation trial: the Passage trial. The focus was on five assassination attempts with seven deaths, in the 1990s and early this century. Including the murder of the Amsterdam pub owner Thomas van der Bijl. Like the most important criminal leader now (Taghi) at Eris, the most important criminal at the time (Willem Holleeder) was seen as one of the clients.
Moreover, the attitude during the trial of father and son was similar: they denied having anything to do with murder and manslaughter. And in both criminal cases, the most important evidence was presented by criminal key witnesses.
At the same time, there are major differences. Jesse has been convicted of actually liquidating people, while according to justice Greg ‘only’ facilitated assassination attempts. Son R. was also early on and became involved in a liquidation when he was in his twenties. With father R. that would not have been until his seventieth birthday. Given his criminal career to date, lawyer Flokstra therefore calls it “not logical” that Greg R. would suddenly become involved in liquidations.
Also read: The murder broker and his motorcycle club
the red tip
What started in the 1970s with the trade in ‘la Punta Roja’ (Colombian weed) evolved at R. In the late 1990s, he belonged to the vanguard of Dutch criminals who made the switch to ‘white gold’ such as cocaine in those days in the underworld was known. The thirty years in prison that he has received so far are mainly related to drug offences.
Also read this profile of Greg R .: Jovial godfather survived three generations of the underworld
From its foundation in 2016, R. became involved with motorcycle club Caloh Wagoh, which, according to justice, was used for the contract murders that are being tried in the Eris case. But according to lawyer Flokstra, R. had nothing to do with that. Membership of such a motorcycle club could help with its core business: collecting criminal claims. “Liquidations are not an issue with these collection practices.”
Central to the accusation that R. facilitated contract killings is the shed he arranged for Calow Wagoh in Mijdrecht – diagonally under his home. That shed was intended as a new clubhouse, but cars and weapons were stored there. According to the crown witness Calow Wagoh member Tony de G. Greg R. knew about it, he stated. “By [Keylow] I heard that Greg was aware of the use of the shed.”
In his plea, Flokstra pointed out that the key witness has made many such ‘hear-say’ statements, which are not supported by other evidence. Against the main suspects – with Keylow leading the way – the judiciary has piles of chat messages and photos that underline the statements of the key witness and their involvement in assassination attempts. However, the evidence against Greg R. is based almost entirely on statements by the key witness, who has been promised a substantial reduction in sentence for his cooperation. Statements that would additionally be teeming with inconsistencies. It brought the lawyer to the conclusion that the suspicions against R. are based on “evidence-based quicksand or swamp, if you will”.
Greg R. and he “didn’t think it possible” that the OM would demand life. “It is muscle from the government that is not accompanied by the required care in the content.” The answer to the question of whether the court sees it that way is still a long way off.
In the coming weeks, the lawyers of the co-defendants of Greg R. will plead their case. In February, the Public Prosecution Service will respond to the pleas and the suspects will eventually get the last word. It will take the court several months to write the verdict: the verdict is scheduled for early July.