Many Dutch farmers approached by criminals: report

Buxus field in the Netherlands
Buxus field in the Netherlands. (Photo: Svdmolen / Wikimedia Commons)

Criminal organizations have approached 15 percent of Dutch farmers to offer them money in exchange for free-standing sheds or stalls so that a drug lab can be built there, Trouw reports based on a poll conducted by Geleen Consultancy. 

The number of farmers approached by criminals in this way may well be higher, as some may be afraid to admit this. The police believe the number may be as high as 3 out of 5 farmers, according to the newspaper.

The pressure on rural areas has only increased over the past years, Freek Pecht, synthetic drugs coordinator for the Zeeland-West-Brabant police, said to the newspaper. "Many farmers do not have a successor and the vacancy is visibly increasing. Then it becomes very difficult for farmers to say 'no' when someone comes and offers them money."

Prosecutor Heleen Rutgers of the Oost-Brabant region recognizes the problem, but thinks that it cannot be solved only through law. "Police and judiciary do the investigation, but have to set priorities because of scarce resources", she said to Trouw. "Countering the undermining will have to come from a different angle: from the cooperation with the province and municipalities. The outlying area has become a vulnerable area, with bankrupt companies and vacancies. We as government will have to help the farmers by coming up with alternatives."