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Smugglers Blues

As you were able to read in our Oktober-issue, Coffeeshop-owner / Highlife columnist Nol van Schaik is in trouble. France has requested his extradition in connection with the smuggle of a shipment of hash, nine years ago. At the time, Nol adventurasly escaped his arrest, after which he went back too his old life in the Netherlands. In this special episode of Underworld, Nol tells us in his own words about the smuggle, and about his escape.
Nol: "I started out working construction untill I was 23, and then opened my own gym. Looking back, that was aiming too high; I was too young. As a result I went bankrupt 6 times with a gym. Finally I was in debt so deep, I saw no other alternative but turning criminal. So I robbed a bank.
The heist went alright, but I didn't get nearly enough money to pay off all my debts. Then I commited a second robbery with a partner. The loot on that one was sufficient, but my partner was so proud of it, he all but shouted from the rooftops how we did it. As a result, we were arrested a couple of weeks later. I was found guilty, and sentenced to 4 years imprissonment, most of which I've spent inside "the Dome", in Haarlem.
During my probation, I was contacted by an aquaintance; I'll call him Tony. He asked me if I could adjust a mobile-home, so it would carry 400 kilos of hashish, fully conceiled. I am practical by nature, so yes, I could do that. But I wasn't about too for a tip, so I said: 'Give me 5000 guilders and I'll take care of it.' That was a deal. I prepared the vehicle and made stashes fitted to hold plates of hash in the walls. The measurements for the plates were given to me by Tony. I took out all the insulation, installed the tailor-made stashes, and ceiled the whole thing back up again. I was supposed to get the money for the job when Tony got back from Morocco, where he was picking up the hash.
I had my doubts about that story, but as he claimed to have no money yet, I could do little else but agree. Anyway, off he went, and drove the mobile-home into Morocco.
The day before my official release, I got a suprise telephone call from Tony in Morrocco. He couldn't get the walls open, and didn't have a clue on how to insert the shipment. Would I like to come over and take care of it myself? I didn't really want to do it, but Tony promised me 50.000 guilders if all went well. He had already booked me a flight in, and taken care of everything.

Of course I could make good use of that kind of money, so I decided to go. I was officially released on september the 2nd, but on september the 3rd I was on a airplane to Tanger.With the money I was going to make, I wanted too open up a little coffeeshop. That was still easy in those days. So I took the flight, and soon found myself in the noble village of Meknes, Morocco.


The hash was waiting for us on a farm, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I went straight to work, but instead of the intended 400 kilo's, only 200 key's fitted inside the camper. Because of all the tape around the pieces, the spaces were too small for the full load; Tony's measurements had been wrong. And we couldn't cut open the remaining slices of hash, because of the stench it would release.
This cut the transport in half before we even got underway.
There were 4 of us in total at Meknes: Tony and me, and the driver with his girlfriend. The latter two were to drive the camper back to the Netherlands, while I would fly back in. Tony also had a partner with whom he had arranged the details of the transport. This partner was to stay in Holland,
but as I took a stroll through Meknes that night, guess who I bumped into? In contradiction with the agreement, he had come to Morrocco. Later, inside the hotel, they got into a big arguement. The hash hadn't even been buildt in yet, and already they were trying too rip each other off!
To keep it brief, there was no turning back because they didn't trust one another anymore. Tony asked me to drive back with the couple, to keep an eye on things. I didn't know what to do, untill they offered me a 50 key reward. That's when I said:"Fuck it! I'll just go ahead and do it!" Please keep in mind that if I didn't do it, the whole transport would be bumped off, and I would get nothing for my troubles.
So the 5 of us went into that camper. First we drove to Ceuta to take the boat to Spain. There was very little control at the harbour, and we crossed over with no troubles at all. Once inside Spain, we drove straight towards the French border, and again without any troubles. Except for the fact that I had caught a case of difteria on the way over, and was having the shits. Anyway, we aproached the French boarder at a little town called Le Boulou, not far from Perpignan. It was decided that only the driver and his girl were to cross the boarder with the camper, the three of us would take a cab to the other side. We agreed to meet back up at the first available parking place or gas-station inside France.
The camper crossed with no troubles as the three of us stayed behind with our lugage, and ordered a cab. At the boarder we were found to be very suspiscious ; 3 funny looking dutchmen in a Spanish cab headed for France. So we had to get out and were thouroughly examined, but as we had nothing on us, this possed no real threat to us.


As we were leaving I overheard a customs officer tell our cab driver too drop us off at the first exit, and turn back around. We were to call a French cab from there. But as we got to that exit, Tony told the driver to keep going. I said:"What are you doing man?", but he replied:" What's the big deal? It's just a little further, so we're going to the gas-station!" That exit was still in sight of the boarder, close to a mile away. So the taxi moved on, and there was our camper, at the first gas-station.
As the taxi pulled up, I told the two not to go straight to the camper, but to enter the store first. So there I am, taking care of the cab driver, when I see Tony "the Brain" going straight for the camper, and throwing his bags in. At that very moment, a customs vehicle pulls up. They had decided to follow us, because we didn't get out of the cab where we were supposed too. They saw Tony enter the camper, and drove straight at him. 4 agents got out, all drawing their guns. All of us were forced to enter the bus and were driven to the nearby customs office while being held at gunpoint.
Once we were there, the driver and his girl were taken inside, and we were told too sit on the hood of the camper. They took all our papers to check, then told us to undress so they could look up our arses. By then we were considered to be very suspiscious. A little van drove up, filled with cops with tools, ready to take our camper apart. Within 15 minutes they took it apart, and then one of them started yelling:"Hash, hash!". I had told Tony 15 minutes earlier that I would run if they were going to arrest us, because I would rather get shot then go back to jail. "If you're taking off, then so am I", Tony replied. A customs officer aproached me with handcuffs, so I stretched out my hands, as if too surrender. But as he took my wrists, I gave him a huge head-butt and jerked free. That's when I ran.
I was told later that they fired shots upon me but at the time, I heared no such thing (must have been the adrenaline). Some of them tried jumping me, but I just kept on running. We all fell down, I broke free, got up and ran again.


Like a madman I ran on to some kind of construction yard with a big fence around it. Half of my clothes were ripped off by then, so I was running in just a pair of jeans. I bumped into the fence, jumped it, and ran some more. They tell me, that at this time, more shots were fired. I wanted to dive into the thicket there, because I figured it was the start of some kind of forrest; big mistake! The fence had a purpose afterall. It was like a cartoon; I'm running when suddenly I realise that there is no more ground beneath me, and plunge down. I ran off a cliff! It was deep! Thank god, a tree caught me halfway down, and sort of broke my fall. When I finally laid still I was very lucky; I hadn't broken anything. But I was cut up from top to bottom, with a big whole in my knee, and blood and gashes everywhere. I maneged to crawl down the slope, and hid in the woods below.
Once in the forrest I tried to rest up a little. The slope must have been too steep for their taste, because none of the men from customs had followed me down. Later that day I headed back for the boarder, and from a small hill I could see the customs office in the distance. I saw a big fuss; vans were driving on and off, and there were cops with dogs and stuff. So I went back into the woods, and after a while walked into some kind of desserted race track for hounddogs or something. I found a sort of rusty old ax, and used it to break into a little shed wich was also on the grounds there. I climbed in and found a few litlle itoms wich I had good use for: a pair of pliers, a role of coockies, and a screwdriver. The shed had probably been used to prepare the dogs on their race or something. There was also a big green overall, wich I quickly put on.


At night, I walked back to the parkinglot, because I knew that I had to get to the highway if I was ever going to get out of there. But I had to be carefull since they were probably still looking for me. I saw those customs vehicles pass by every once in a while, but I was pretty sure that they weren't exactly hot on my trail anymore. Once I'd reached the lot, I hid out in the bushes, hoping for some kind of truck to pass by so I could jump into the back. At a certain point in time, a Scottish truck pulled up. The driver got out to take a piss. I felt that I had no choice, so I walked up to him. Scared the hell out of him of course, the way I looked; dirty, covered with blood, and wearing those funny overalls. I explained to him that I was in trouble, and desparately needed to get out of there. Would he please take me? He looked at me with suspiscion, and then told me to come back in the morning, after he had slept a little. That was no good. Moments later another truck aproached, a Dutch one. Couldn't be better. From the Geris firm out of Den Dungen, as I vividly remember. Yeah, you can wright that down, it doesn't matter to me anymore. That'll let that driver know who it was that shit all over his truck, haha. It was a truck with it's trailor covered by sail-cloth, you know. I didn't feel like adressing the driver again, so I pulled some of the straps loose, and crawled into the trailor. It was empty, save a few pallets, so that was ideal. Using the screwdriver and the pliers, I made a kind of shelter out of the pallets. I put them diagonally against the outside, and crawled underneath. I was freezing and soaking wet, but happy enough 'cause I was getting out of there undetected. Meanwhile I was still having the shits due to the difteria. So when we started moving again, I pulled free some straps along the side, hung my ass out, and let it all go. The diarea splattered nicely alongside the vehicle, but half of it landed back inside. That's probably what the driver found, haha.
I was inside that truck for 36 hours. With no foodor water, and that was probably the worst of it, as I was getting terribly dehydrated from crapping all the time. All I had was that role of coockies from the shed. Then we stopped at a gas-station, and I got a first good look at the driver through a crack. It was one of those oldfashioned guys, with a conservative haircut, and a lumberjack shirt. I knew I couldn't aproach him with my story, it was just too risky. So I just sat there, and tried to get "comfortable". 'Cause believe me, after a couple of hours in the back of a truck your kidneys are about to exit your body. And everything had gotten so dirty, such an incredible mess!


We drove on all day, and didn't stop untill the evening. In total, the driver slept twice for 8 hours, during wich time I did not leave the vehicle. Too risky. The next morning, after we had been driving for a while, I looked outside again, and still all of these French phrases where on all the signs. "Shit, we're still in France?!", I figured. Or did we turn around, heading back into France? I didn't know, and nearly panicked! When I looked again later, I noticed the signs were in fact slightly different, and discovered we were in Belgium. So that was working out alright. We reached Maastricht the same day. I had made it too Holland, but wasn't about to get out of the truck yet. So I hung in there, al the way too Den Dungen, when as the truck slowed down too pull up into it's company terain I quickly climbed out. In Den Dungen I walked into a bank, to exchainge the peseta's I had left on me. As I walked into the bank, people looked at me as if I was a ghost. And when I walked out of there, my reflection in a shop-window showed me why. My face was almost completely black with dust, and I was so skinny I had trouble recognising myself. I bought some fruitjuice and some yoghurt in a small store, then got on a bus to Den Bosch. From there I took a train to Haarlem.
The police in Haarlem later told me that there was an extradition request from France concerning me, but not to worry, for I would not be extradited. Tony, his partner, the driver and his girlfriend were each sentenced to 5 years imprissonment in France, of which they all served 4, before being released. I received the same sentence in abcence. But that they would come knocking at the Dutch justice department after 9 years..... No, this I've no longer expected.


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