Dutch customs intercepts more drugs

by Team Inc.

drug smuggling port

Customs seized more drugs in the first half of 2023 than in the same period last year. This is evident from the six-monthly figures of Customs on drug seizures. The number of small shipments found is striking: more than half of the shipments found contained less than 100 kilos drugs.

This large share of small shipments may be related to risk spreading by criminals. The number of large shipments with more than a thousand kilos of cocaine has remained about the same. At the same time that comes out drugs in traffic has tripled in the Netherlands and that young people increasingly normalize the use of hard drugs.

However, the majority of users believe that they do not contribute to the underlying drug crime. That shocks Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgöz.

More interceptions

In the first six months, Customs intercepted 29.702 kilograms of cocaine. That is higher than in the first half of 2022, when 22.009 kilograms of cocaine were intercepted. The largest catch in recent months was a catch of almost 3600 kilos in June in the port of Rotterdam.

State Secretary Aukje de Vries of Finance (Executions and Customs): “Criminals who smuggle cocaine into our country operate ruthlessly. They recruit minors, put pressure on entrepreneurs and make our countryside unsafe with their drug labs. That is why we have to crack down on drug smuggling.” The State Secretary points out that the government has intensified its approach to undermining in recent years.

An important part of this approach is cooperation with other countries. For example, Dutch and Belgian customs work closely together. Liaisons have been posted in South America and Customs is cooperating with Brazilian Customs when it comes to analyzing scan images. The State Secretary: “We have invested heavily in cooperation with other countries. For example, Customs more often exchanges information with countries from which a lot of cocaine is smuggled.

It seems that this approach is paying off,” says De Vries. This is how the Dutch government writes. Minister Yesilgöz is also firm in her statements: “We are winning this war. Leaders are being arrested at a rapid pace.”

Fast conclusions

Are these quick conclusions correct is the question hanging over the market? Of course, big people in the international drug industry are being rounded up and more drugs are being intercepted. However, is that the result of more advanced equipment, more effort and international collaborations or is there simply more drugs entering the ports, which automatically leads to a greater chance of being caught? And how many new people stand up for each arrested ringleader?

It is difficult to estimate whether the war on drugs will actually lead to the great results as so often claimed by the Dutch government. The nuance seems to be missing. Shouldn't much more be invested in prevention and education? Enter for discussion.

Shifts and trends

Where a shift from the port of Antwerp to Rotterdam was already visible before, there is also another trend. The number of kilos of drugs intercepted in the port of Vlissingen is striking. In the past six months, there were eight finds in the port of Vlissingen, totaling about 3.000 kilos. Those were all shipments hidden in fruit. In the first half of 2022, there were still five catches in Vlissingen with a total of 2.200 kilos.

Customs sees that criminals still use the rip-off method most often to send drugs illegally. Rip-off involves adding drugs to regular loads, such as sports bags. This is the case in 70 percent of cases. In half of all intercepted shipments, the narcotics are found in containers with fruit. Other cargoes such as fish, meat, cocoa beans, coffee and wood are used for the other shipments.

There is intensive domestic cooperation to combat drug smuggling. For example, Customs participates in Hit and Run Cargo (HARC) Teams with, among others, the FIOD, the police and the Public Prosecution Service. Customs' catches are regularly made in part thanks to information provided by partner organisations.

Over 16,4 tons of cocaine destined for the Netherlands was seized in 42 seizures by foreign customs services in the first six months. These are relatively fewer catches than in 2022, when 104 tonnes of cocaine were intercepted in 150 shipments throughout the year.

Source: Rijksoverheid.nl (NEITHER)

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