Dutch police uncovered a shipping container they say was converted into a torture room that held a dentist chair with arm and leg straps and tools including things like pruning shears, a branch saw, scalpels, pliers, extra handcuffs, and tape, according to Dutch news outlet NU.
Dutch Police said in total there were seven shipping containers found to be part of the set up, but the other six seemed more like holding areas, with handcuffs fixed to the ceilings where people could be held with their arms in the air.
The Associated Press reported the head the police’s national investigation service, Andy Kragg, said in a video, “Six of the containers were intended as cells in which people could be tied up and one container was intended as a torture chamber.”
In the container meant for torture, police say there was also seating and a place to sleep. The Public Prosecution Service said, “Probably for guards to stay longer,” according to NU.
Dutch Police Said the Torture Room Hadn’t Been Used Yet But Identified Potential Victims Who Are Now in Hiding
Police said the bags of tools they found including tools like hedge cutters, scalpels and pliers “were likely intended to torture victims or at least put them under pressure”, according to the AP.
Dutch Police say the torture room had not been used on anyone yet, but they identified potential victims that the suspects had in mind and notified them. Those people are now in hiding.
Six men were arrested in connection with the torture room and an Amsterdam court ordered they all be held for 90 days as the investigation continues, according to the AP.
“The men are suspected of preparing kidnapping, extortion, physical abuse and being part of a criminal organization. Two of them were also detained for possession of weapons,” Dutch Review reported.
The Torture Room Was Found After Police Hacked Into an Encrypted Messaging Service That Criminals Commonly Use
Police had been aware of the converted torture room since April after encrypted messaging service EncroChat was hacked by French police, allowing law enforcement to read millions of messages that criminals thought were secure, the AP reported.
According to British News Site iNews, EncroChat, “had more than 60,000 users worldwide” and, “was used by criminals to coordinate the distribution of drugs, firearms, money laundering and to plot the murder of rival criminals.”
EncroChat was hacked on April 1, and subsequently shut down. Sifting through millions of messages, Dutch police found the converted shipping containers and tracked them to a warehouse in a village called Wouwse Plantage, which is near the Belgium border.
“In those reports, photos were sent of a pilot and a sea container with a dental chair, with straps on the armrests and the footrest. There was talk of kidnapping and torture,” NU reported. Other messages said, “If I have him on the chair, more will come” and “But that dog is missing.”
According to the AP the suspects referred to the warehouse as the “treatment room” and the “ebi,” which refers to a maximum security Dutch prison.
The AP reports that the investigations based on the EncroChat messages have so far led to the arrest of over 100 suspects for various crimes. Police have also seized “more than 8,000 kilograms (17,600 pounds) of cocaine and 1,200 kilograms (2,600 pounds) of crystal meth as well as the dismantling of 19 synthetic drugs labs and seizure of dozens of firearms.”