Police bust scheme to truck loads of heroin to Netherlands for distribution
An international crime ring that imported thousands of kilograms of heroin to the Netherlands was broken up this week with the arrests of three people in Amsterdam and Dordrecht. Authorities said the drugs were brought to the capital to then be distributed back out to Germany, the Scandinavian countries, and the United Kingdom.
Seven others were arrested in Turkey as part of the plot, along with another in Poland and a 32-year-old woman in Belgium, Dutch police said. The three taken into custody in the Netherlands are between the ages of 44 and 50, the latest arrests in an operation spanning over 14 months.
The international police operation included the cooperation of authorities in those countries, as well as Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Italy, Lithuania and Spain. Europol also took part in the investigations.
It started back at the end of 2018, Dutch police said, when 300 kilograms of heroin was found in Genoa, Italy, destined for Roosendaal. Authorities in the two countries discussed the case and shared information to see what they could uncover. "It soon became clear that a 44-year-old man from Dordrecht was an important facilitator in the Netherlands," police said. They allege the man arranged different forms of cargo that could adequately conceal large quantities of drugs.
While investigating, they managed to catch several heroin deliveries in the Netherlands, each over 100 kilograms in weight. It led to six arrests in Amsterdam, Bergschenhoek, Roosendaal, Rotterdam and elsewhere after a June 2019 discovery of 170 kilograms in a warehouse.
As the international element of the case expanded police widened their scope to include more countries. "The drugs were transported by trucks and every time the truck crossed a border, that country took over the surveillance," police said.
Drugs were found hidden in shipments of confectionary sweet halva, police said, because "the specific weight of this product and of the heroin is the same; the suspects thought that they had found a good smuggling method." Another 1,100 kilograms of heroin was found hidden in a shipment of natural stone in Kazakhstan.
Thousands more kilograms of the drug were caught on export out of the Netherlands in and around Europe. Detectives working with German highway authorities captured a haul of 640 kilograms in a shipment of rocks.
The Netherlands has been in the spotlight for its work to dismantle large heroin smuggling operations over the past year. A joint investigation between British, Belgian, and Dutch authorities led to the discovery of over 1,300 kilograms of heroin, woorth over 130 million euros, a record for Europe. Months earlier, Spanish police arrested 17 people including Dutch-Turkish man Sadullah U., believed to be one of the largest heroin traffickers in Europe.