Saturday 19 June 2021

Customs officers netted 48 tonnes of cocaine arriving in NL last year

Cocaine seized in Rotterdam. Photo: Public Prosecution Department

Customs officers in the Netherlands and abroad prevented over 115,000 kilos of cocaine from reaching the country in 2020, the customs office has said.

Dutch customs officers impounded some 48,000 kilos of cocaine in the ports and at Schiphol airport, a rise of 24% compared to last year. International partner organisations intercepted another 67,000 kilos destined for the Netherlands.

Thousands of parcels and 3,000 letters sent from the Netherlands containing synthetic drugs were also intercepted, as well as over 9,000 kilos of qat and a tonne of hashish.

‘These figures show that the customs service has an important role to play in combating organised drugs crime. But at the same time we have to remain critical and ask ourselves if we are doing enough and if we are tackling this in the best way possible,’ customs director general Nanette van Schelven said.

Van Schelven said that close cooperation with police and customs in South America, which are close to the production and distribution bases, had been key for dismantling smuggling networks at an early stage.

The parcels and letters containing synthetic drugs from the Netherlands were intercepted thanks to more intensive postal checks, she said.

The figures come as police revealed that security firm Securitas, which is active in the port of Rotterdam, has been ‘deeply infiltrated’ by drugs criminals, from security guards to management. Thousands of kilos of cocaine were smuggled into the country with the aid of corrupt Securitas staff, the AD reports.

Two of the security guards were arrested last summer but police, lawyers and other sources around the ongoing investigation said this is only the tip of the iceberg. According to the AD sources, criminals who had managed to infiltrate the management of the firm were then in a position to hire corrupt security staff.

Dutch police, the prosecution office, the defence ministry and customs and excise have been working together since April 2020 in a multidisciplinary team (MIT) team in an effort to combat organised crime, such as the infiltration of legitmate firms.

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