Amsterdam port threatening to become smuggling paradise, research says
The area between IJmuiden and the Port of Amsterdam is threatening to become an alternative drug smuggling route with security at the Rotterdam port being stepped up. This is largely due to the "fragmented cooperation" between local security authorities, and a new water lock system which will soon let larger ships access the port, Vrije University and the Verwey-Jonker Institute concluded after their research, NOS reported.
The new lock in IJmuiden will be put into use at the beginning of 2022. That will give much larger seafaring vessels a way into the vast area of 21 kilometers long. Lead researcher Yarin Eski said that will make the port area more interesting for smugglers. "It's a large, obscure area where you can basically hide anywhere as a criminal."
"If you take a look at what is happening in Rotterdam now, houses are being set on fire and companies are being attacked by criminals. We are concerned that this will spread to the Port of Amsterdam," said Amsterdam port director Kees Noorman.
Frank Dales, the Mayor of the municipality of Velsen, which includes IJmuiden, also voiced similar concerns. "We expect many more ships and that means that the chance of people smuggling and drug smuggling increases a great deal."
While the Port of Rotterdam is highly secured, the security system in Amsterdam is disjointed, researchers concluded. This is partly due to its complex location, which covers several municipalities, security regions, and police departments. "The more people you sit with at the table, the easier it is to look away. Hope someone else takes a step," local police officer said.
Eski observed that the organizations involved all work differently and take different approaches to combat subversion, money laundering, human trafficking and drug smuggling. In addition, they do not dare to share signals with each other out of fear that they will violate privacy laws.
"The latter is often just ignorance. There are certainly more possibilities," said Eski.
Moreover, the recent reorganization of the Amsterdam police made the situation even worse. The team which was previously tasked with ensuring safety in the port was recently transferred to the city. Later, an investigation showed that the team should have not been discontinued but rather expanded.
A harbor leader is urgently needed in the North Sea port area and the port of Amsterdam, the research concluded. "One person who is above all parties and who can make decisions quickly, which would then be followed by the relevant authorities."