How a Quiet Corner of Northern Europe Became a Theatre of Extreme Drug Warfare

Palinurus

The Living Force
Source: Netherlands no longer Europe’s safe, quiet hamlet; Police chief blames organized crime

Sunday, October 10, 2021 - 17:00

Netherlands no longer Europe’s safe, quiet hamlet; Police chief blames organized crime


The Netherlands is no longer a safe, low-crime haven in Europe, Amsterdam chief of police Frank Paauw said on the television program Buitenhof on Sunday. He responded to stories related to organized crime, such as the murders of crime reporter Peter R. de Vries and lawyer Derk Wiersum.

Midden-Nederland police chief Martin Sitalsing said he is “naturally” concerned about organized crime in the Netherlands. Arrests are made very quickly, according to Sitalsing. “What we see is that we are getting the most out of the investigation.”

Sitalsing said he was particularly concerned about the young people who join organized crime. When young people lack perspectives “then, the choice to get involved in crime becomes very powerful.”

“The concerns are great,” Paauw agreed. The Amsterdam police chief indicated that in order to tackle organized crime, more preventive work needs to be done in the neighborhoods to offer young people opportunities so they do not resort to organized crime.

In a press release from the police about the appearance in Buitenhof of Paauw and Sitalsing, along with police chief Gerda van Leeuwen, it was stated that all neighborhoods and streets in the Netherlands deserve police presence. To fulfill that role the police require sufficient staff, as well as, modern ICT resources, the press release said.

“A police force should not only intervene afterward but be able to identify problems as early as possible and step in when necessary”, the statment said.

Recently, the Cabinet has been aiming to fight subversive crime, which can include collusion between the underground crime network and people working in important positions. The new Cabinet needs to be aware of the importance of investing in the police force to fight organized crime, the police chiefs said.

Reporting by ANP.

Coverage in Dutch: Politiechef: Nederland niet meer rustige eilandje in Europa

Related news: Verdict expected Monday in case of assassinated Amsterdam attorney Derk Wiersum

Sunday, October 10, 2021 - 08:01 AM

Verdict expected Monday in case of assassinated Amsterdam attorney Derk Wiersum


Since the end of March 2018, three murders committed in the Netherlands shook the rule of law to its core. All three seemed to be tied to the controversial Marengo criminal proceedings, the name of an ongoing trial which already covers multiple assassinations, attempted homicides, and plots to commit murder.

The first victim was the brother of Nabil B., the key witness for the prosecution in the trial, then his attorney, Derk Wiersum, and finally his confidant and advisor, the investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries. In the case of the Wiersum murder, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) demanded a life sentence in closing arguments against the two suspects in mid-July. The suspects denied their involvement in the murder. They will hear the court's verdict on Monday. With the rare maximum sentence, the OM said it wanted to send "a clear and crystal-clear signal" that this is not acceptable in any way.

The murder of the B.’s brother, Reduan on March 28, 2018, caused trepidation also because it was committed shortly after the announcement of a deal between the State’s witness, Nabil B., and the judiciary. Wiersum’s murder on September 18, 2019, shocked the nation and led to tightened security measures around the Marengo Process. After the attack on Peter R. de Vries on July 6, 2021, the Netherlands was stunned, and held its breath for nine days hoping he would survive the ordeal. The country mourned collectively, and spontaneously, when he subsequently succumbed to his injuries.

The opinion of organized crime has changed partly due to these three murders, according to many. The international cocaine trade is the defining backdrop of organized crime in the Netherlands. Billions of euros are at stake, leading to brutal, utterly unscrupulous acts of violence. Traitors, renegades, rivals, and enemies are handled without mercy. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. The use of Kalashnikovs has become commonplace.

There have been attacks on the editorial offices of both Panorama and De Telegraaf. An unknown number of threatened journalists now have security details. When batches of cocaine are intercepted, sometimes due to authorities being tipped off, attacks, threats, and kidnappings soon follow. This often draws unwitting innocent civilians into the violence.

Suspects arrested for the three execution-style murders seem to be directly related to the existence of the Marengo Process key witness. The conviction and eventual 28-year prison sentence given to Shurandy S. was upheld by the highest court in the Netherlands, and cannot be appealed. He was convicted of killing Nabil B.’s brother. The two men in custody for the violent murder of Peter R. de Vries will appear for the first time in a public court hearing on October 18.

The murders may be part of a terrorism campaign. The investigation has attempted to determine who is directing the campaign. Ridouan Taghi, the main suspect in the Marengo case, is frequently referred to, but his lawyers said this is disgraceful. They claim there is not a shred of evidence linking Taghi to the three assassinations. One of Taghi’s relatives is a suspect in the Wiersum murder plot, but he is no longer in pre-trial detention for the crime. The investigation into other associates and intermediaries is still ongoing.

Reporting by ANP.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Source: Two men jailed for 30 years for killing lawyer Derk Wiersum - DutchNews.nl

Two men jailed for 30 years for killing lawyer Derk Wiersum

October 11, 2021

Two men have been jailed for 30 years (Dutch only) for the murder of lawyer Derk Wiersum outside his home in the Amsterdam suburb of Buitenveldert in September 2019.

Giërmo B (37) and Moreno B (32), who both claimed to have an alibi for the shooting, were convicted on the grounds of DNA and telephone evidence, and the fact they both had large amounts of money shortly after the murder.

The public prosecution department said it had been unable to prove which man did what, but that Moreno B was likely to be the shooter while Giërmo drove the getaway car. Both were therefore both culpable for the killing, the prosecutor said.

The court in Amsterdam agreed. ‘This was a gangland killing, a paid-for hit,’ the court said. ‘These childhood friends… were brought in to kill the victim, and they were paid to do so.’

Taghi

Wiersum was acting for Nabil B, a key witness in a major drugs and murder trial revolving around gang leader Ridouan Taghi, when he was killed. Taghi, 43, is one of 17 people currently standing trial in Amsterdam accused of ordering six murders and another seven attempted killings between 2015 and 2017.

The court said that while many had suggested the elimination of the key witness’s lawyer, to intimidate him, may have been the sole purpose of Wiersum’s murder, the investigation had ‘focused exclusively’ on the perpetrators and ‘not on the person(s) by whom they were directed’.

Some Dutch media sources have also linked Taghi to the murder of television crime reporter Pieter R de Vries, who also worked with Nabil B, although his lawyer has denied any connection.

The killing of Wiersum was described at the time as a ‘new, dark phase’ in the increasingly deadly underworld drug wars and prompted justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus to pledge tough new measures against drug criminals.

Similar:
Judge to issue ruling in assassination of lawyer Derk Wiersum
Suspects convicted of killing attorney Derk Wiersum; Sentenced to 30 years in prison

Coverage in Dutch:
Rechter doet uitspraak in zaak-Wiersum, levenslang geëist
Twee keer 30 jaar cel voor moord op advocaat Derk Wiersum
geenstijl.nl/5161504/live-uitspraak-tegen-moordenaars-derk-wiersum/
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
The intercepts pile up, coming fast and furious (or at least the reporting of such}:

Nearly 1,200 kilos of cocaine intercepted at Rotterdam port
Customs officials discover 635 kilos of cocaine within two days in Rotterdam port

Other news (Dutch only):
ad.nl/buitenland/kaas-coke-en-killers-duits-tijdschrift-veegt-vloer-aan-met-nederlands-drugsbeleid~a4f7feee/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fmyprivacy.dpgmedia.nl%2F
694

Cover of Der Spiegel. © cover


'Cheese, coke and killers': German magazine wipes the floor with Dutch drug policy

The Netherlands has become a mafia paradise because of its excessive drug policy, Der Spiegel believes. The German weekly devotes a remarkable cover story to the neighboring country.

Bob van Huet 15-10-21, 17:27 - Last update: 15-10-21, 20:53

After the Italian journalist and writer Roberto Saviano had previously pilloried the Netherlands as a hypocritical narco-state and "one of the most criminal countries in the world," today the German magazine Der Spiegel takes aim. In a nine-page cover story entitled 'Käse, Koks und Killer' (cheese, coke and killers), the magazine gives an update on recent developments, including the murder of Peter R. de Vries, and wipes the floor with Dutch drug policy, about which German authorities are increasingly worried.

'A country that has handed itself over to drugs,' said Der Spiegel, which this time put a criminal Frau Antje on the cover. A few decades ago, the popular Dutch cheese girl was already pictured high and sucking beer. Now she poses defiantly with a Kalashnikov and cocaine, hidden in a Gouda cheese.

The worries are great in Germany, the story shows. The Bundeskriminalamt in Wiesbaden (the German national criminal investigation department) handled 161 cases in 2019, all pointing to the Netherlands. Far more than to any other country. This confirms the status of the Netherlands as an important fulcrum of the international drug trade and as a hub of trafficking in Europe, according to German researchers. 'The Netherlands is a country that wants to be free but has fallen into the clutches of the Mocro-mafia due to naive policies,' the paper said.

Who talks, goes down

Der Spiegel explains to its readers that there is a culture of fear of the drug gangsters in the Netherlands and also that Prime Minister Rutte is no longer sure of his life. 'Who talks, goes down', would be the motto of the Taghi gang. The fear is there, according to the magazine, 'because every journalist who writes about the Moroccan gangs, every prosecutor, every lawyer, every witness had better look under his car to see if there is not a bomb there. They should all look at who is walking behind them, be prepared to put themselves under police protection and give up the old life'. ''The Netherlands is the drug supermarket of Europe,'' says Frank Buckenhof, union leader of customs officers in Essen. The professionals for importing, cultivating, manufacturing and distributing drugs are all based in the Netherlands, he says.

The article coincides with a discussion in Germany about a possible liberalization of German drug policy. The upcoming coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals are discussing a possible legalization of soft drug sales. Several speakers say that the dangerous influences of Dutch drug criminals would already be noticeable in Germany.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Source: Dutch gang leader held in Spain after 3,000 kg cocaine bust

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Spanish police intercept in sailing yacht carrying drugs - Source: Policia Nacional Interior at Policia Nacional Interior


Sunday, October 17, 2021 - 10:50
Dutch gang leader held in Spain after 3,000 kg cocaine bust

Spanish police rounded up a gang of cocaine smugglers led by a 60-year-old Dutchman. The gang leader was arrested in Mijas, 20 kilometers southwest of Málaga. The gang also included a Swede, Dutch people of Turkish descent and people from Latin America.

At least three arrests were made on the Costa del Sol, local media reported. An American and one person from Latin America were taken into custody aboard a sailing yacht carrying cocaine.

Spanish police boarded the boat on the Atlantic Ocean during a storm earlier this month. Initially, 2,500 kilos were found on board. After the boat was towed to Vigo in northwestern Spain, 500 further kilos of cocaine were found, making it one of the largest drug busts for Spanish police.

The sailboat was intercepted during a very violent storm on October 8 by a police commando on the high seas almost 900 kilometers north of the Azores. It is unclear exactly how many suspects have been arrested in the cases.

Upon raiding the home of three gang members, police also seized a gun, 34,600 euros in cash, various mobiles phones, a motorcycle and three high-end vehicles.

Reporting by ANP and NL Times.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
UPDATE on post #47 above: both parties have gone into appeal.
Source (Dutch only): Hoger beroep in zaak Wiersum, Openbaar Ministerie blijft bij levenslang

NOS News - Domestic - today, 13:54
Appeal in Wiersum case, prosecutor's office upholds life sentence

The public prosecutor's office is appealing the verdict in the case of the murder of lawyer Derk Wiersum. Last week the court imposed a 30-year prison sentence on two men for the murder. The prosecutor had demanded life imprisonment.

Wiersum was shot two years ago in front of his home in Amsterdam with six bullets. The court has established that the childhood friends Giërmo B. from Almere and Moreno B. from Rotterdam committed the murder.

The prosecutor believes that life imprisonment is an appropriate punishment because the suspects knew that their victim was a lawyer and they were "purely motivated by monetary gain."

Social impact

In addition, the Prosecutor believes it is important to look at the case on appeal because of the social impact of the murder. The Prosecution points to the increase in the number of murders for hire and mistaken identity and the scant respect for human life.

The two convicts are also appealing. That was already known. Their lawyers say that their clients maintain that they did not commit the murder.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
For those interested in the original Der Spiegel article (see post #47 above) in English: use this link.

The article is way too long to copy/paste and has many illustrations plus it's probably copy-righted anyway.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Source: Police seize 1.5 tonnes of cocaine at Rotterdam port, hidden in cooking fat and pineapples - DutchNews.nl

Police seize 1.5 tonnes of cocaine at Rotterdam port, hidden in cooking fat and pineapples

October 29, 2021

Police and customs officials have seized a further 1.5 tonnes of cocaine in two shipments at Rotterdam port in recent days.

A week ago, 930 kilos of cocaine were found in a container from Curaçao hidden in used cooking fat. And on Wednesday, 600 kilos were found in a sea container of pineapples.

The two companies where the shipments were heading, in Ter Aar and Westland, were unlikely to know about the shipments, police said.

In September, European police organization Europol said the increased use of shipping containers to conceal drugs had made the high volume ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg the new epicenter of the European cocaine market.

While Antwerp is the biggest arrival port for cocaine, most of the drug is ‘is likely intended for organizations operating out of the Netherlands, from where the cocaine is further distributed to other European destinations, Europol said.

Later that month, nine people were found suffering from breathing difficulties after becoming trapped in a container while waiting to pick up a drugs shipment.

Port police chief Jan Janse told the Telegraaf at the time that one method used by drugs gangs involves driving a container full of people into the port. The driver then drops the container close to where the drugs are so that they can pick up the drugs.

‘This is only possible thanks to corrupt people working for transport and port companies,’ he said. Officials also regularly find containers equipped with food and sleeping areas, which the gangs use to hide in until they can get at the drugs, Janse said. Last year, some 40 tonnes of cocaine was found hidden in containers at Rotterdam.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Source: Panama, Colombia seize massive amounts of drugs headed to Rotterdam
Sunday, October 31, 2021 - 10:48

Panama, Colombia seize massive amounts of drugs headed to Rotterdam


Authorities in Panama and Colombia announced the discovery of vast quantities of illegal drugs destined for Rotterdam. The discovery of nearly 3,500 kilograms of narcotics in Panama was the largest-ever bust in that country. Another 2,300 kilograms of cocaine was also found in Colombia. The announcements were made the same week that investigators in Rotterdam found over 1,400 kilograms of cocaine.

In the largest drug bust in Panama’s history, local officials said they found 100 suitcases containing 3,499 one-kilogram packets of cocaine on board a container ship which originated in San Vicente, Chile. Authorities said they were already on high alert for the ship out of concern for a history of illegal cargo transported from Chile, via Panama, to the Netherlands.
________________________________________________________
Unidades operacionales, a través del Centro de Operaciones Aeronavales (CROAN), ubican en una terminal portuaria del Pacífico 100 maletines contentivos de 3,499 paquetes de sustancia ilícita, ocultos en un contenedor a bordo de un buque procedente de San Vicente/Chile 🇨🇱 pic.twitter.com/KeKU0XusHt
— Senan Panamá (@SENANPanama) October 30, 2021
DeepL translation:
Operational units, through the Air Naval Operations Center (CROAN), located in a Pacific port terminal 100 suitcases containing 3,499 packages of illicit substances, hidden in a container on board a ship coming from San Vicente/Chile.
_________________________________________________________

When the ship arrived at the Pacific port in the Central America country, authorities boarded the vessel and discovered that the customs seals were manipulated, a representative of the military told local media outlets. The narcotic had not yet been identified when investigators announced the bust on Saturday just before midnight Central European Summer Time.

This year, authorities in Panama discovered nearly 100,000 kilograms of drugs, the vast majority of which was cocaine. Drug traffickers often use the Central American country as a transit point. Despite their best efforts, several large shipments of cocaine arrived in the Netherlands from Panama just in the past year.

Nearly 2,300 kilograms of cocaine found in Colombia​

Also on Saturday, in the Colombian port of Cartagena, a shipment of 2,279 kilograms of cocaine was found concealed in packages of one kilo each. Local authorities put the value of the seizure at 400 billion pesos, which converted equates to just under 91 million euros. The drugs were also destined for the port of Rotterdam.
____________________________________________________________
#TodosContraElNarcotráfico | Como respuesta a los controles realizados en el puerto marítimo de #Cartagena, @PoliciaAntiNar logró la incautación de 3 toneladas de clorhidrato de cocaína, afectando las rentas criminales en en más de 400 mil millones de pesos colombianos. pic.twitter.com/OwVxiAuMjs
— Dirección de Seguridad Ciudadana (@PoliciaDisec) October 30, 2021
DeepL translation:
#TodosContraElNarcotráfico | As a response to controls carried out in the seaport of #Cartagena, @PoliciaAntiNar achieved the seizure of 3 tons of cocaine hydrochloride, affecting criminal revenues in more than 400 billion Colombian pesos.
_____________________________________________________________

Similar to the Panama bust, alert officers noticed problems with the customs seals on a refrigerated sea container set for export to the Netherlands. "After this, the uniformed officers decided to pass this container through the scanner. When they saw the images, they noticed that it presented a series of anomalies, which led to a physical inspection, uncovering 29 duffel bags with 2,270 rectangular packages of varying colors,” a spokesperson told local local media outlets there.

Another 109 million euros of cocaine found in Rotterdam​

This past Thursday, investigators in Rotterdam found 930 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a sea container loaded with used cooking oil. The container arrived in the Netherlands from Curacao and was destined for a company in Ter Aar, Zuid-Holland. The business is not believed to be involved in the smuggling operation. The cocaine carried a street value of about 69 million euros, the Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam said.

Another shipment worth 40 million euros was found earlier in the week. Customs officials discovered 529 kilograms of cocaine on Tuesday in the port side hold of the MS Trudy, a ship which was moored at a business on the Merwedehaven. The boat arrived from Brazil after making stops in Dunkirk and Antwerp. When examining the hold, authorities removed packages and bundles wrapped in plastic with anywhere from 5 to 10 kilograms of cocaine.

The Rotterdam busts were part of an ongoing collaboration between Customs, port police, the prosecutor's office, and FIOD, the financial crimes inspectorate. All drugs seized in the Netherlands were destroyed.
Dutch coverage: Twee grote drugsvangsten in Panama en Colombia met 'bestemming Nederland'

Other news: Authorities discover more than 4,000 kilos of cocaine in 2021's largest drug bust
Sunday, October 31, 2021 - 14:50

Authorities discover more than 4,000 kilos of cocaine in 2021's largest drug bust


In this year's most significant drug bust, customs officials in Rotterdam discovered 4,178 kilos of cocaine in the Port of Rotterdam on Saturday evening.

The Douane discovered the narcotics in two containers from Paraguay, which were loaded onto another ship in Uruguay. The stash was hidden among soja beans in big bags destined for Portugal.

The cocaine was estimated to have a street value of around 313 million euros.

Earlier this week, investigators in Rotterdam had already discovered 1,400 kilos of cocaine in Rotterdam. Overseas, authorities intercepted 5,800 kilos of drugs destined for the Netherlands.

The discovery of nearly 3,500 kilograms of narcotics in Panama was the largest-ever bust in the Central American country. In Colombia, authorities discovered around 2,300 kilos of cocaine in the port of Cartagena with a street value of approximately 91 million euros
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Source: Over 450 "drug extractors" caught at Rotterdam port this year

Friday, November 19, 2021 - 18:50

Over 450 "drug extractors" caught at Rotterdam port this year


So far this year, the Dutch authorities made 452 arrests in the port of Rotterdam - a new record and significantly more than the 349 arrests in 2020. The detainees are suspected "extractors," AD reports.

Extractors or collectors are an indispensable part of the drug trafficking chain. Their job is to sneak into the port, break into containers, and remove the smuggled drugs before the police or customs find them.

The police count the number of arrests, and some suspects were arrested more than once. One suspect has been arrested nine times this year, the Public Prosecution Service said to AD. The youngest suspect this year was 14 years old. The oldest was nearly 50. The figures are up to November 9.

The investigative service is concerned about the increasing number of extractors. It is very difficult to keep them out of the port. If they're caught before extracting the drugs, the police can do little more than fine them 95 euros for trespassing.
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member

"One suspect has been arrested nine times this year...The investigative service is concerned about the increasing number of extractors."

Sounds like it is typical extractor catch and release program, hence being "concerned" seems odd, unless they were arrested before the extraction as the last sentence says?

There are a great many headlines from countries looking at drugs (and the effects), often the conclusion (or a media movement) being that they should be legalized - which means market control at some level. With drugs like fentanyl's mass killing of users, this is a whole other and yet interconnected matter.

Can't know, yet it seems that there is some type of possible Hegelian solution coming (e.g. the corporatization of the global illicit drug trade, transportation and dispensing systems).

Look to the search the term "illicit legalized drugs" and see what comes up.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Sounds like it is typical extractor catch and release program, hence being "concerned" seems odd, unless they were arrested before the extraction as the last sentence says?
Yes to the latter. The article states total arrests made which includes those who were only caught at trespassing.
Can't know, yet it seems that there is some type of possible Hegelian solution coming (e.g. the corporatization of the global illicit drug trade, transportation and dispensing systems).
This is not very likely in my view. It's an open secret that the alfabet agencies (first and foremost the CIA) have already full control over the substantial parts of all systems involved. I don't think they would be happy to release that unless it's confined to window dressing by substitution.
Look to the search the term "illicit legalized drugs" and see what comes up.
It's a never ending debate in which little progress has been made, one way or the other. Status quo prevails with only minor adjustments here and there.

Thanks for your input! :cool2:
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
This is not very likely in my view. It's an open secret that the alfabet agencies (first and foremost the CIA) have already full control over the substantial parts of all systems involved. I don't think they would be happy to release that unless it's confined to window dressing by substitution.
Yes, an old open secrete. Thus, perhaps this could be seen in term that they are interlinked (you know, HSBC et al.). So releasing from more hidden hands into main open face corporate distribution hands, including the ability to legally prescribe in medicine, could be seen as just a illicid drug trade market structural move (look at Canada's legal marijuana growers and disrupters in just a few short years and the funding of it); the same hands at the end of the day - legitimized, with a social reason for doing so; uncontrolled illicid drug deaths with optics of removing the criminal element, while integrating it all with new digital currencies (soon to come).

All speculation of course.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Source: Drugs smugglers are targeting fishing boat owners with financial problems - DutchNews.nl

Drugs smugglers are targeting fishing boat owners with financial problems

November 25, 2021

fishing-boat-768x512.jpg

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Drugs smugglers have been approaching fishing boat owners with financial problems in increasing numbers, according to a new report (in Dutch; PDF-file 187 pages) commissioned by the police and public prosecutors.

In particular, boat owners in smaller ports are being targeted, lead researcher Shanna Mehlbaum told NOS radio. Brexit and the European ban on pulse fishing have increased the financial problems facing some fishing boat operators, she said.

‘Sometimes they are approached by someone they know, who is aware of their financial problems, but sometimes they are approached directly [by smugglers],’ she told the broadcaster.

Fishing boats are being asked to pick up drugs, mainly cocaine, which has been thrown off a container ship at a given location. The trawlers collect the drugs and either bring them to land, or deliver them to a third boat.

The researchers spoke to 40 trawler owners based in IJmuiden, Urk and Den Oever about their experiences, but did not say how many of them had been approached.

‘The first time you can say no, and that does happen,’ Mehlbaum said. ‘But once you are in, you are stuck. If you refuse the next time, you can be blackmailed or threatened with violence.’

Police, local authorities and the industry have now drawn up an educational programme to make trawler owners aware of the dangers. In addition, it must be made easier for boat owners to report seeing floating packages, which is currently complicated and risky because it cannot be done anonymously, experts say.

In 2018, the five-strong crew of a fishing boat from the staunchly religious village of Urk were jailed for up to six years for their role in a cocaine smuggling operation.

And in 2019, the government’s regional crime information unit RIEC said Urk is a hotbed of crime, with islanders involved in cocaine smuggling, money laundering and in exploiting workers in the local fish processing industry.
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
It's a never ending debate in which little progress has been made, one way or the other. Status quo prevails with only minor adjustments here and there.
The decriminalization process (small amounts anyway), at least in Canada, seems to have growing traction:


The application would decriminalize personal possession of up to 4.5 grams of illicit drugs, including heroin and fentanyl.

This is just one example, and then there is the supply side, which might likely be fully pharmaceutical/corporatized, and then the distribution side.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
@Voyageur
Historically speaking, in the Netherlands the very first step in decriminalizing drug use was the switch from a criminal connotation unto a severe health issue; but drug producing and trafficking has remained illegal and a criminal offense. So-called 'hard drugs' (including heroine and cocaine) stayed exempt from this softened up stance and still are illegal.

It seems to me that Canada is following the Dutch example in this regard but with local variations.

However, here prescription drugs are stricktly bound to medical intervention via GP, specialists and hospitals; all other trade is also illegal and a criminal offense. So I'm a bit puzzled to read that you mentioned fentanyl in this regard. The same goes for heroine substitutes like methadone; they are only available in (pseudo)medical environments under controlled conditions.

Other news: The Netherlands to work closely with Belgium to combat organised crime - DutchNews.nl

The Netherlands to work closely with Belgium to combat organized crime

December 9, 2021

The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain have agreed to work more closely together to combat organized crime, citing the ‘fundamental threat … on the values and functioning of our society.’

The four countries issued a joint statement on Thursday outlining their concerns, in particular, the way ‘organized crime networks are increasing their foothold in our neighborhoods and communities.’

The project involves working together to reduce criminal networks and businesses, catch and convict criminals and seize and confiscate their assets. The main focus will be on the illegal drugs trade, with particular emphasis on ‘vulnerabilities’ in the financial and logistics sectors, including sea ports, airports and postal services.

‘If the Dutch police come across important information, it is important that this can be quickly shared with the Spanish or French police,’ Dutch justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus said. ‘Then joint action can be taken against international criminal groups and their assets in Europe as well as in Latin America and the Caribbean.’

Rotterdam


Europol said in September that the increased use of shipping containers to conceal drugs has made the high volume ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg the new epicenter of the European cocaine market.

While Antwerp is the biggest arrival port for cocaine, most of the drug is ‘is likely intended for organizations operating out of the Netherlands, from where the cocaine is further distributed to other European destinations, Europol said.

Drugs-related crime costs Dutch society between €3.2bn and €4.1bn a year, according to a report drawn up on behalf of the justice ministry.

In total, combating illegal drugs costs the police some €1.1bn to €1.6bn a year while court cases and prisons add almost a billion more to the total bill. Research suggests that 20% of all people spending time in prison have a link to the drugs trade.

Similar: NL teaming up with other countries to fight organized crime in ports
 
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