Smugglers infiltrating big shipping companies in Rotterdam, police can't keep up
The logistics process around drug trade in the port of Rotterdam, which is considered Europe’s biggest drug trafficking port, is largely controlled by drug gangs and smugglers, NRC reported. Drug criminals now commonly infiltrate big shipping companies and use a variety of smuggling techniques.
“The problem of undermining is that criminals infiltrate the upper world through companies. The front companies that use them for this are unexplored territory. We have never actually done anything about it. But can you be a serious police force if you are unable to tackle a company that you know is only used for criminal purposes?“, chair of seaport police Jan Janse said.
Last year, a record 40,900 kilos of cocaine were seized by the so-called Hit And Run Cargo team. In comparison, that number was 7,575 just seven years earlier in 2014. The police team responsible for the investigation of drug crimes is no longer able to keep up with an increasing scope of work.
“Then there are dozens of cases that you cannot investigate. The big catches in the port are always from the HARC team. But the HARC team consists of only eighteen people. "There were eighteen in 2014 when we found 7,500 kilos and with the 40,900 kilos per year now, there are still eighteen. That's a bit absurd. It is a pity that the minister has not expanded the HARC team over the years,” Janse argued.
According to Janse, new techniques have been developed by drug criminals and gangs, making it even harder for the police. Smugglers are now often managing to successfully register as truck or taxi drivers or security guards, making their presence at the port legal. Additionally, bags containing cocaine are sometimes thrown into the water, which are then fished out of the water by smaller ships or cutters and brought ashore.
“The most recent method is that the smugglers are brought to the port in an empty container. They then wait for days in another container that serves as a hotel until they receive the signal that the container with narcotics has arrived. Then they empty it and put the drugs in a container that has already been cleared by customs for departure. You can only do this construction if you have someone at the shipping company to help you.“, Janse concluded.
As a transit and distribution country, the Netherlands is a crucial point in the European illegal drug trading market.