Dutch police make record fentanyl seizure
Dutch police have made a record seizure of fentanyl, prosecutors said Tuesday, as concern grows that the opioid epidemic hitting the United States could cross to Europe.
Police officers found more than a kilo (2.2 pounds) of what they initially believed to be cocaine hidden in a plastic bag in a garden shed belonging to a 42-year-old man in the southern city of Eindhoven on February 3.
But the Netherlands forensic institute identified the substance as the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl, the Dutch federal prosecution service said in a statement.
“As far as is known, such a large amount of the extremely dangerous substance has never before been seized in the Netherlands,” it said.
Police also found banned weapons and ammunition, expensive watches and thousands of euros in cash in the raid.
The arrested man will be in custody for at least two weeks.
Fifty times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine, fentanyl can be lethal from as little as two mgs — the equivalent of a few grains of sand.
Until now, Europe has avoided a crisis on the scale of that of the United States, where fentanyl and other synthetic opioids killed 32,000 people in 2018, according to the US government.
But seizures are on the rise. Police in Europe intercepted more than 15 kilos in 2017, the last year for which figures were immediately available, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
That compares with one kilo across Europe the year before — the same as the amount seized in a single raid in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands has long been known for its tolerant attitude towards marijuana but increasingly faces significant problems from drug-related crime, with a police union chief recently describing it as having become a “narco-state”.