Drug shipments to NL almost halved in first half of 2024

Cocaine seized in Rotterdam. Photo: Public Prosecution Department

Drug hauls at sea ports have been falling in the last six months compared to the same period last year thanks to better cooperation, latest customs services figures show.

Cocaine busts in particular went down from 28 tonnes in the first half of 2023 to 16 tonnes so far this year.

The drop is significant, although the amount of cocaine coming into this country is still increasing. Last year port and airport border police seized almost 60 tonnes of cocaine compared to 51 tonnes the previous year.

The drop in drug smuggling via seaports reflects better cooperation with shipping companies, port terminals and the Latin American countries where the drugs are exported from. Customs services are also using scanners, drones and AI to track the drugs.

Better controls have made the ports less attractive to gangs, who are now opting for southern European routes, customs said.

The figures show an increase in hauls of other drugs. Customs officials confiscated some 367 kg of heroin in the first half of this year compared to 5 kg last year. 1120 kg of qat were found, about three times as much as last year.

The amount of cocaine intercepted at airports went up by 40 kg to some 720 kg, some 60 kg of which came from Canada, which may have become a preferred transit port.

Fewer drugs also enter the country by post. Some 9,000 packages containing drugs like xtc, MDMA, LSD and amphetamines were tracked down in the first six months of 2024, down 3,300 compared to the same period last year.

The drop is mainly due to the Hit and Run Post Team, a drug-busting joint venture between Post NL, police, customs and the public prosecution office.

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