Dutch agents needed in Colombia for drug war: Rotterdam mayor

1,500 kilos of cocaine found at the port of Rotterdam, hidden in a banana shipment from Colombia, 29 Sept 2019
1,500 kilos of cocaine found at the port of Rotterdam, hidden in a banana shipment from Colombia, 29 Sept 2019Photo: OM

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb wants to station Dutch police- and customs officers in Colombia in the fight against drug trafficking. The port of Rotterdam is one of the main transit ports for Colombian cocaine. The Rotterdam mayor is therefore currently visiting the Colombian port city of Cartagena to see how he can improve cooperation with local authorities, NOS reports.

Cocaine from Colombia is regularly seized at the port of Rotterdam. On Sunday another 1,500 kilos of the drug were intercepted in a container filled with bananas from the South American country. The cocaine had a street value of between 60 million and 90 million euros. 

According to mayor Aboutaleb, the Netherlands must do more in the fight against drugs. That means more money, and more people - including stationing Dutch  police officers and customs officers in Colombia. "For exchanging images, data, names. One of the simple things is to put one of us here. But that is not happening now. I think it is important that we do things like this in the future with each other", the mayor said.

At least half a billion euros is needed to combat drug trafficking throughout the chain - from Colombia to the courtroom, Aboutaleb said. "We received 280 million from this government period, and we must return 140 million euros. That is incomprehensible. It is important that we invest more in the entire security chain, including our [intelligence service] AIVD."

The Rotterdam mayor also wants shipping companies to become a link in the drug fighting chain. According to Aboutaleb, shipping companies should be held partly responsible for the drugs on their ships. "They have remained out of the picture so far. Those companies say: 'We are a kind of donkey, we transport containers and nothing sticks to us'. I think we should look at that."

The Association of Dutch Shipowners is surprised about Aboutaleb's statement, director Annet Koster said to radio program Nieuws & Co. "The mayor talks about international cooperation, and that is something we warmly welcome. At the same time, we find such a statement a bit strange for the mayor of a port city, because he points to sea shipping while knowing very well that we are part of a chain", Koster said. "We have a role in the chain, but we are not responsible."

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