The avocado on your toast may be the product of a crime

Big bunch of avocados at farmer market

Criminal gangs are increasingly infiltrating legitimate business sectors such as trade, and importing more illegal products into the Netherlands, police research bureau Politie & Wetenschap has warned in its latest report.

The researchers found that the trade in avocados, plastic waste and timber are particularly prone to criminal infiltration and gangs earn money by circumventing local and international rules and regulations.

Some 130,000 cubic metres of timber from illegal logging by criminal gangs in the Amazon rainforest were exported to the United States and Europe in 2021, including the Netherlands, despite its system of sustainability labels.

Parts of the avocado trade in Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile are also being taken over by gangs, the report said. Extortion, theft from local avocado farmers, and illegal slash and burn practices to obtain more land to grow avocados are rife.

After the United States, the Netherlands is the biggest importer of avocados from these countries and in 2021, it imported €1.1 billion worth of the fruit.

Big volume markets with a good image are most vulnerable to criminal infiltration, Politie & Wetenschap said.

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