Thursday 09 December 2021

Flower route popular among drugs smugglers, police raid premises

Cut flowers at a wholesalers. Photo:

Police have carried out raids on homes and business premises in Aalsmeer, Leiden, Amstelveen and Rotterdam in an investigation into to the use by criminals of the flower trade to smuggle drugs into the country via Schiphol airport.

The team were acting on a tip-off that drugs were going to be imported via South America and that various businesses were involved in the distribution. Police confiscated computers and paperwork but no arrests were made.

A report published earlier this month by four local councils, the police, public prosecutors and Royal FloraHolland growers’ cooperative, showed the entire floricultural sector is vulnerable to drug trafficking, money laundering and the exploitation of workers.

The sector has long asked for more public money to toughen up controls and checks to meet the standards of other transport hubs, such as Schiphol airport and Rotterdam harbour.

Bouke Arends, mayor of Westland district, said at the time that the sector’s logistics systems are far from watertight and so can easily be abused by criminals.

In 2020, for instance, a record drug bust of 5,000 kilos of cocaine from Costa Rica was smuggled in a container that should have carried flowers. Last summer, 400 kilos of cocaine and speed were found in hidden compartments under 35 carts of flowers.

However, because of the lack of checks there is no knowing how many more drugs are being traded via this route, Arends said.

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