The owner of the Netherlands’ biggest hashish-selling cafe has been ordered to pay €9.7m in fines and sentenced to 16 weeks in jail for soft drugs trading.
Judges in Middelburg found the owner and members of staff guilty of breaking drugs laws, exporting drugs and membership of a criminal organisation.
The owner, Meddie W, was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail, a term he has already spent in prison before the trial. The prosecution had called for an 18-month sentence.
He was also ordered to pay €9.7m under laws allowing the justice ministry to claim the proceeds of crime. The prosecution claimed over €28m.
At its height, the Checkpoint cafe in Teurneuzen near the Belgian border was serving up to 3,000 clients and processing 10 kg of marijuana a day. It was closed last year.
Coffee shops with more than 500 grammes of cannabis on the premises are not covered by the official policy of turning a blind eye to soft drugs.
Judges said the sentences were less than the prosecution had called for because the local council had not intervened.
‘Checkpoint could never have become as big as it is without the cooperation of the town council,’ the judges were quoted as saying. ‘Nor did the justice ministry ever warn the operation to become smaller.’
At one point the cafe moved from the town centre to a large out of town location with generous parking space, with council help, Nos tv reported.
Nevertheless, Checkpoint was a well-oiled machine in terms of production, processing and storage, which meant it could be considered a criminal organisation, the judges said.