Who is the real-life drug lord behind Netflix kingpin Ferry Bouman?

By Louie Fecou
Published: November 3, 2023 (Last updated: December 4, 2023)
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Ferry Bouman - Who is He Based On?
Frank Lammars as Ferry Bouman in Ferry: The Series | Image via Netflix

Long-running Netflix crime thriller Undercover is a gripping, gritty, but often darkly comedic series with its origins and inspiration based on real events. Two intrepid undercover agents integrate themselves into a drug lord’s inner sanctum, posing as a couple. The show stars Tom Waes, Anna Drijver, and Frank Lammars, the latter of whom plays Ferry Bouman, the drug lord based on a real-life Dutch crime boss whose empire is infiltrated by the undercover couple, eager to build a case against him.

As is often the case, the villain becomes as engaging as the main protagonists of a show, and Ferry Bouman is no exception. They do say a hero is only as good as his enemy, and Bouman is certainly a worthy adversary.

Who is Ferry Bouman based on?

Ferry Bouman is based on the real-life crime boss Janus van Wessenbeeck, a nefarious and feared drug lord from the Netherlands. The show also takes its inspiration from the story behind his eventual downfall.

In the series, Bouman lives on the Dutch-Belgian border and is portrayed as a drug kingpin, mass-producing ecstasy tablets.

Who is Janus Van Wesenbeeck?

Janus van Wesenbeeck

Janus van Wesenbeeck | Image via Panorama

In the real world, Janus van Wesenbeeck was also known for his connections in the drug trade, and earned the nickname “Harry Potter”allegedly due to his appearance when wearing glasses.

Janus would eventually be brought to justice for his drug trafficking operation and received a fourteen-year prison sentence in 2011.

RELATED: Ferry: The Series Season 2 Renewal Chances

Janus was originally from Eindhoven and would often operate from Belgium, smuggling ecstasy, amphetamines, and hashish. The crime lord was under investigation for over a decade, and he was found to be smuggling millions of Euros worth of drugs to Australia.

Previously he was also convicted for leading a large criminal organisation that led to another jail term of ten years. In 2015, he would receive an early release from his sentence after a successful appeal was launched.

His current whereabouts are unknown.

Was there a spin-off to Undercover?

Yes, the film Ferry is a direct spin-off from the popular Netflix show, and serves as a prequel to Undercover. The film covers the early years of Ferry Bouman and stars Frank Lammers and Elise Schaap.

Netflix announced the release of the film on June 17, 2020, and it dropped in 2021.

The screenplay takes viewers back to Amsterdam in 2006. We find Ferry Bouman working for drug lord Ralph Brink, a powerful criminal and Ferry’s mentor. When a member of the gang is attacked, and Ralph’s son is badly injured, Ferry is recruited to get to the bottom of the terrible attack.

The film would explore aspects of the character and expand his back story, making it a perfect accompaniment to the TV series.

In November 2023, Netflix released Ferry: The Series, a sequel to the film (but still a prequel to Undercover) continuing to chronicle Ferry’s efforts at becoming a drug lord.

RELATED: Ferry: The Series Ending Explained

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