The Netherlands is to work closer with countries in South America and the Caribbean to stop the international drugs trade shipping narcotics through Rotterdam.
Justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz, on a visit to the Colombian city of Medellin, said around 10 Dutch liaison officers would be sent to the country to share their expertise and try to intercept shipments before they leave for Europe.
Colombian customs officers are already operational in Rotterdam and Antwerp, which are two of Europe’s biggest entry points for the drugs trade. In 2021 170 tonnes of cocaine were seized in the two ports, up from 106 tonnes in 2020.
Yesilgöz said more cross-border co-operation was vital to effectively tackle international drugs networks. Last week the Netherlands signed an agreement with Surinam targeting a smuggling route from Paramaribo, while an extradition treaty has recently been agreed with the United Arab Emirates, currently a favoured safe haven for suspected drug barons.
‘Experts have told us that it’s not profitable for criminals to use the Netherlands for smuggling if we can intercept 20% of the criminal trade,’ Yesilgöz said. She wants the Dutch authorities to reach this target level within five years.
Yesilgöz said a pan-European approach was needed including Belgium, Germany and France, Spain and Italy to cover the entire coastline, so that drugs gangs cannot transfer their business to another port.
‘What hits drug dealers hardest is taking their trade or their money off them. To do that we need to combine our forces.’
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