Last year, Dutch custom officials intercepted around 27 000 letters containing illegal drugs, which were heading abroad, 12 000 more letters than in 2021. The bulk of it was made up of shipments of party drugs heading abroad, mainly to the USA and Australia.
As the peak of the pandemic is over, the parties and club events are back. So is the demand for synthetic drugs like ecstasy, LSD and MDMA, which are popular among party goers. A common and easy way to get drugs nowadays is ordering them by mail from the dark web, a string of private computer networks where one can anonymously conduct business using cryptocurrency without revealing any information.
The Netherlands, which has liberal drug laws and were drugs are easily accessible, is an appealing place to order them from. The Dutch customs officials have intensified their controls and seized 27000 letters containing drugs, they revealed last week. This number was 15500 in 2021 and 4000 in 2020, which means sending drugs in letters is rapidly increasing. Most of these letters were heading to the US and Australia.
Aukje de Vries, state secretary for supplements and customs said in a press release that criminal drug traffickers are becoming increasingly ruthless and the consequences of this are increasingly being felt in society. “With every gram we seize, criminals are affected in their income and society becomes a bit safer,” de Vries said.
Dutch customs spokesperson, Maarten Molenbeek told the Groningen Observer that this increase of drug containing letters is down to Covid-19 measures alleviating and customs having more capacity to intercept the letters. “There are more parties going around the world, so people need more of these kinds of drugs,” Molenbeek said.
Perpetrators hard to catch
Molenbeek said that he does not think the problem would be so big if they could catch the perpetrators. “The only thing we can do is catch the drugs in the post, we don’t have any information who are sending these packages,” said Molenbeek and added that the number of letters containing drugs intercepted could increase this year.
Molenbeek said that one way they are trying to catch the ones responsible for drug smuggling is international exchange of knowledge and cooperations with countries who are also struggling with the same problem.
Most of these packages are caught at the port of Rotterdam and Schiphol airport. A spokesperson for Schiphol airport told the Groningen Observer that they are not responsible for dealing with this situation and directed our questions to the police.
What are the Dutch police doing to tackle drug smuggling from the Netherlands and how many criminals are caught in the Netherlands? A spokesperson for the police said that “they are unable to answer our questions” regarding drug smuggling today.
The Netherlands and neighbouring Belgium are also struggling with being one of the main destinations in Europe for South American cocaine. In 2022, South American customs and police services seized nearly 110 tons of cocaine that was heading to the Netherlands. This cocaine is smuggled inside legal cargo containers heading to Europe.