Some 15% of Dutch farmers have been asked by criminal gangs to rent out empty barns or storage space, Trouw said on Wednesday.
The actual figure could be higher because some farmers who took part in the survey may have been unwilling to admit they have been approached by drugs gangs, the paper said.
The figures come from Trouw research into farming in the Netherlands. Police in the south of the country say that between one third and 20% of farmers have dealt with inquiries from criminal gangs.
‘Many farmers have no one to take over their business and farm buildings are being left empty,’ police spokesman Freek Pecht told the paper. ‘It is very difficult for a farmer in that situation to say “no” if someone makes them an offer of cash.’
Land is cheap, says Janus Scheepers of the local farmers’ lobby group ZLTO. ‘In the countryside, square metres don’t cost much and you are relatively invisible. And it is easier to dump your drugs waste in a ditch than in the middle of a city.’
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