Dutch police seize drugs, weapons, millions of euros

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Dutch police have seized about 350 kilos (770 pounds) of cannabis, millions of euros and dozens of weapons in a major crackdown on drug-running, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Three men, aged between 28 and 38, were remanded in custody in the swoop in the southern town of Breda where five kilos (11 pounds) of cocaine were also seized.

The cannabis, the arms and the money were found Tuesday in the storage room of a shop selling equipment for the private cultivation of cannabis plants, Martine Pilaar, spokeswoman for the Breda prosecutor's office, told AFP.

These so-called growshops "are legal", she said, adding: "In theory, we shouldn't find cannabis in a 'growshop' but in practice we have found out that these shops are often linked to crime groups."

The police operation was launched in the Dutch province of Brabant which borders Belgium on Tuesday. The region which has the highest rate of illegal cannabis cultivation and is also rife with drug-related violence.

On Tuesday, 19 cannabis plantations were destroyed, 14 suspects were arrested and 16 "growshops" controlled in the towns of Tilburg, Breda and Helmond, authorities said.

The Netherlands legalised the possession, consumption and resale by retail of up to five grammes (.18 ounces) of cannabis in some 670 so-called coffee shops in 1976. However its cultivation and wholesale are banned and controlled by criminal gangs.

© 2011 AFP

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