The Netherlands remains major European drug trader: EU report
A new EU report on drugs says the Netherlands remains a main hub for drug production and trafficking across Europe.
The in-depth analysis, published last week, says EU citizens spend more than €24bn a year on drugs, 38% of it on cannabis. The Netherlands and Spain are major hubs for cannabis and cocaine trafficking, while Holland and Belgium are Europe’s leading producers of ecstasy and amphetamines.
Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which authored the report, say the drugs trade is getting more sophisticated, globalised and with production increasingly nearer to home.
According to the Parool, it is a pat on the back for Dutch criminals’ ‘innovation and entrepreneurial spirit’. The paper reports that the vast majority of ecstasy taken in Europe and the US comes from labs mostly in the south of the Netherlands, while about half of the €5.7bn a year of cocaine taken in Europe comes through Rotterdam.
In 2014, Rotterdam port handled 7.4 million containers, and the report adds: ‘It takes about three minutes for traffickers to illegally open a container and retrieve a consignment of…100 kg of cocaine distributed in four or five duffel bags.’
Organised crime and international violence are characteristic of the drug trade, and crooks help one another too, offering ‘crime-as-a-service’. The report notes a rise in Dutch ‘grow shops’ that sell what you need to cultivate cannabis, and sometimes buy your harvest too – possibly operating online as the police crack down.
It also looks at the environmental impact of drug production, with toxic waste dumped at 157 sites in the Netherlands in 2014.
Cannabis is the most frequently taken drug, with 1% of European adults using it on an almost daily basis, and 22 million adults in the EU taking it in the last year.
While most people consume cannabis grown in the EU, resin from Morocco has also been ‘increasing in potency and may be trafficked to the EU alongside other illicit goods and human beings, a trend potentially exacerbated by instability in North Africa and the Middle East’, the report says.
Heroin is the number two drug, estimated to be worth €6.8bn a year and responsible for a “significant proportion” of deaths and social costs. Meanwhile, cocaine is Europe’s most commonly used stimulant, with coca cultivation on the rise.