Police bust more drugs labs but fewer marijuana plantations

One of the drugs labs. Photo: Politie.nl
One of the drugs labs. Photo: Politie.nl

Dutch police dismantled 20% more illegal drugs labs last year than in 2021 but discovered fewer marijuana plantations and drugs waste dumping sites, according to new figures published on Tuesday.

In total, police found 105 locations where drugs were being produced, either synthetic drugs such as amphetamines or MDMA, or processing sites for cocaine and, in two cases, heroin. As in previous years, Noord-Brabant had most drugs labs.

Police say they expect the increase is down to the market recovering following a major crackdown in 2020 when a record number of labs were identified on the basis of encrypted information.

In total, the police also found 17 labs where cocaine was being extracted from other materials, such as cloth as smugglers look to other ways to transport the drug.

The number of marijuana plantations fell from 2,285 in 2022 to 1,604 last year, but police also found 61 nurseries where new plants were grown and 33 places which were being used to dry the drug. Zuid-Holland and Noord-Brabant remain the main cannabis production locations.

The downturn in busts is due to a number of factors, not least of which is the shortage of manpower, drugs squad police chief Willem Woelders said. Growers are also increasingly using methods to make the plantations more difficult to detect, he said, and police are receiving fewer tip-offs.

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