Mayors of Rotterdam and Antwerp suggest practices to curb cocaine imports
Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb wants to better secure his city’s port to curb the supply of cocaine coming in from Central and South America, he argued in a letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The letter was co-written with Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever and also sent to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium.
The two mayors recently paid a working visit to Columbia, Panama and Costa Rica. They argued that criminals consider the two ports as one “working area,” which they have used for trafficking large amounts of cocaine into Europe. For example, over five billion euros’ worth of cocaine was intercepted from the port of Rotterdam last year.
The mayors’ recommendations include securing ports more efficiently by using artificial intelligence, and more carefully controlling the flow of incoming goods. In particular, they believe fruit shipments should always be checked. Aboutaleb said on the Flemish television channel VRT that the port of Rotterdam now controls “a scarce one percent” of all tropical fruit containers, NOS reported.
They also want to give the police more leeway to search for criminal money flows, including in cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the mayors called for better communication with the countries the drugs are coming from, in order to stop the bulk of them at the source.
Aboutaleb and De Wever pointed out that a record amount of cocaine from Central and South America was intercepted in their ports last year: around 90,000 kilograms in Antwerp and 70,000 kilograms in Rotterdam.
"The impact of the related crime and criminal money in our ports, our streets, our urban communities, our society is nothing short of disastrous: an increase in brutal violence, criminal money that poisons the economy and finances other criminal activities, such as human trafficking and the arms trade,” they wrote.
The mayors also acknowledged on VRT that they have no formal authority to combat drug trafficking, according to NOS.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times