Nearly €30 million to tackle drug trafficking via mainports
Dutch mainports must be made as unattractive as possible for international drug trafficking. Our major logistical hubs – the ports of Rotterdam, Zeeland-West-Brabant and the North Sea Canal area, Schiphol Airport and the flower auctions – must become major bottlenecks for drug traffickers. Minister of Justice and Security Yeşilgöz-Zegerius is therefore making a long-term investment of €29 million to tackle organised drug trafficking at our mainports and logistical hubs. The minister is also committed to further international cooperation, both within Europe and with source and transit countries in Latin America in an effort to thwart drug trafficking.
‘Our open economy has also made us a hub in the global drug trade. Because of the large amounts of money that can be earned with cocaine in particular, organised crime networks often work ruthlessly to further their illegal trade. After all, in order to make money, the drug traffickers must first bypass our logistical ports. Stopping them there will only be possible through increased national and international collaboration, including with the business community. We really have a lot to lose here if we don’t join forces. We make a lot of money in the Netherlands thanks to our good infrastructure, but what is that worth when it is accompanied by so many threats and so much violence?’,
says Minister Yeşilgöz.
Five major logistical hubs
This year, a sum of €13 million has already been invested to tackle organised and subversive crime at mainports. In the years ahead, this total amount will increase to a structural investment of €29 million from 2025. The majority of these funds will be used at five major logistical hubs:
€16.5 million will be made available for the seaports in Rotterdam.
- Seaports in Zeeland and West Brabant will receive €4 million annually for their joint plans.
- Schiphol Airport will receive €3.5 million per year.
- The ports in the North Sea Canal area will receive €1.5 million.
- The logistical process around the flower auctions will receive €1 million annually.
The structural funding will allow long-term investments to be made in investigation, monitoring and collaboration between the municipalities, police, Public Prosecution Service, Dutch Customs, Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, Dutch Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service, Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, regional information and expertise centres, airport and harbour companies, auction houses and sector organisations. More will also be invested in new technologies at the hubs, such as security systems with better cameras and smarter access control using biometrics. In addition, public and private parties will continue their joint efforts to raise awareness among staff at the hubs regarding the risks of subversive practices. For example, using company vehicles and wearing clothing with recognisable logos can already make staff vulnerable. Through training programmes, campaigns and informational materials, employees will learn to better recognise signs of criminal behaviour and they will remain alert and know what to do if they are approached by criminals.
Minister Yeşilgöz also wants to enhance the screening of employees at seaports. As part of this effort, she is investing in a project in the Port of Rotterdam. Under current European anti-terrorism regulations, everyone working in protected areas at airports must undergo an AIVD screening. This is not the case at seaports, since business sites there are many times larger and much more open than those at airports. Truck drivers drive back and forth, for instance, close to the terminals where ships are unloaded. Nevertheless, the minister would like to work with the Agency for Scrutiny, Integrity and Screening (Certificate of Conduct) and the General Intelligence and Security Service (Certificate of No Objection) to expand the possibilities for screening when it comes to jobs at seaports with access to crucial information and positions that are of interest to drug traffickers, precisely because drug trafficking almost always requires help from the inside.
To prevent a ‘water bed effect’, further international efforts must be made in investigating and monitoring cross-border goods flows. On 7 October of this year, a ministerial meeting with Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Spain was held in Amsterdam at the invitation of Minister Yeşilgöz to discuss this topic. Furthermore, additional liaison officers will be deployed to collaborate with so-called source and transit countries in the drug trade, mainly in Latin America, to provide greater resistance against criminal networks. Container scans performed in Latin America will also be viewed and analysed by Dutch Customs in the Netherlands. This will allow suspicious shipments to be identified before they reach the Netherlands.
Later this month, Minister Yeşilgöz, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Harbers, State Secretary for Customs De Vries and delegates from the Belgian government will also meet with the management of five large international shipping companies. During this meeting they will discuss the scope of the problem and the collaborative approach to tackle drug trafficking at the ports. The shipping companies will also be urged to take additional measures to prevent abuse of their business.