Expatica news

KLM workers arrested in drug bust

4 February 2004

AMSTERDAM — Police have arrested 11 suspected corrupt employees of Dutch airline KLM as part of a crackdown against the smuggling of cocaine via Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

A minority of KLM staff working in the baggage hold of the airport are suspected of playing an important role in the retrieval and onward transport of drugs. The arrests were made on Monday and Tuesday.

The Public Prosecution Office (OM) asserts that inquiries have indicated corrupt staff retrieve the drugs and carry them out of the airport in bags and boxes.

A total of 117kg of cocaine was seized at Schiphol and on the island of Aruba during the raids, while a suspect in Belgium was also arrested. He was allegedly carrying 104kg of cocaine in his car, news agency ANP reported.

Five of the arrested suspects come from Amsterdam, two are from Rotterdam and one each come from Lelystad, Haarlem, Purmerend and Diemen. House raids also netted authorities luxury goods, cars and EUR 23,000 in cash.

The arrests come after it was claimed last week that organised crime gangs have gained a solid foothold at the airport, using a large number of corrupt staff and public servants to assist in thefts and drug smuggling.

An organised crime unit said threats and bribes are either forcing of tempting Schiphol staff and pubic servants into criminal activities and that drastic measures are needed to restrict the flow of drugs into the Netherlands.

Together with the customs service, military police, taxation investigation service FIOD and the business community, the police unit is trying to close the gaps in airport work habits and systems.

It is alleged that baggage handlers can pass through from the secured to the non-secured area of the airport with only a basic inspection and the OM claims that on average 15-20kg of cocaine is smuggled in a suitcase.

Further arrests have not been ruled out.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news