Illegal fireworks entering Netherlands through drug channels: Police

200 kilos of illegal fireworks found in Terschuur, 26 Nov 2018
200 kilos of illegal fireworks found in Terschuur, 26 Nov 2018Photo: Politie

Traders in illegal fireworks are increasingly making use of drug routes to bring their products into the Netherlands, according to the police. The bigger chance of fireworks sent by mail being intercepted, means that these traders are looking for other ways to distribute illegal fireworks, the police said, NOS reports.

The illegal fireworks trade via the internet has declined sharply, according to the police. Last year this channel of trade sustained a major blow when the police took down four Polish sites selling illegal fireworks, program manager Ruud Verkuijlen said to NOS. "The distribution lines for parcel post have since been virtually dry", he said.

Instead, distribution lines now more and more correspond to those for cannabis trade. Illegal fireworks are picked up abroad and sold in the Netherlands from car boots, for example. 

Every New Year's the police face incidents of fireworks being thrown at them. The Dutch Safety Board, National Police and various municipalities have called on the government to ban firecrackers and rockets - the fireworks that cause the most injuries and damage, according to the Safety Board. But so far the government refused to take national measures.

National Police chief Erik Akerboom therefore decided to take measures himself to protect his people. This year police officers who face violence can report it immediately via their mobile phone, instead of having to wait for the end of their shift. And 18 thousand police officers are being equipped with special hearing protection, which dampens the sound of explosions, but still lets through other sounds like voices and radios