More money, people needed to combat drug crime, Rotterdam mayor says
More investigators and customs officers are needed to combat drug crime in the port of Rotterdam, according to Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb. The Rotterdam mayor calls on the government to structurally tackle undermining crime, NOS reports.
The drug trade has a major impact on Rotterdam and its port. Last year customs intercepted 18,947 kilograms of cocaine at the port, a new record. 3,378 kilos of hashish, 241 kilos of cannabis, and 58 kilos o heroin were also seized at the port. Criminals increasingly bribe and use port staff and customs officers to smuggle drugs into the country unseen.
Drug trafficking is also visibly present in the Rotterdam neighborhoods. There are regularly shootings and assassinations linked to the drug trade. The police also often find firearms, drugs cutting agents, and large sums of money in Rotterdam buildings. Last year the authorities seized cars with a total value of 342,360 euros, 247 firearms, 130 fake firearms, and 115,789,588 million euros in criminal assets in the city.
Criminals use companies to launder the drug money, including jewelers, call shops and hospitality businesses. Last year Aboutaleb closed 11 businesses for involvement in money laundering.
The investigation capacity in Rotterdam is insufficient, according to the mayor. The security in the port is constantly improving, but still not all drugs can be intercepted. "Huge amounts of drugs are coming this way in different ways. We can do more at the port, but I run into limitations. I can't deploy more police than I do now, and with customs and the Tax Authority I can deploy on a large scale against undermining in only three places", Aboutaleb said to NOS.
The Mayor also wants more Dutch police and judiciary staff in Latin America, where cocaine comes from. "We must have people from the Netherlands who monitor cases, conduct investigations, and then inform the Dutch authorities. We missed that for a long time because of the budget cuts. That is restarting slowly, but as far as I'm concerned, it has to be faster."
More money is needed to step up the fight against drug crime, Aboutaleb said. "We now have 100 million euros and that is too little and also temporary. In this world 15 to 20 billion euros is circulating, and then there is 100 million euros for four years to combat it, peanuts", he said.
Governments must be able to exchange information with each other more easily, according to the mayor. "I am not allowed to to inform the mayor of Groningen about a person involved in undermining who has left for Groningen and that is of course bizarre. I understand all the considerations regarding privacy, but privacy was not invented for this.
Aboutaleb raised this matter with the government. "The State Secretary who deals with customs and the tax authorities knows this complaint." He understands that drugs will never completely disappear from the streets. "But to bring it back to manageable proportions and increase the chance that the big guys get a blow to their wallets and possessions, a well-functioning and smart government is needed."
The government is discussing the approach to tackling undermining crime on Thursday.