Dutch authorities face increased illicit drug trafficking in Rotterdam port


By Imane Rachidi

The Hague, Sept. 19 (EFE) .- Young criminals recruited by mafia groups to unload drugs smuggled into containers from South America to the port of Rotterdam, the largest in Europe, have become an “unmanageable” problem for the Dutch authorities.

This year alone, 325 suspects were arrested in connection with drug trafficking in the port. More than a third of these, some 110 arrests, have taken place in the past two weeks alone, according to Dutch prosecutors. There were 281 arrests over the whole of 2020.

In some cases, these groups manage to enter the port area and unload the illegal cargo. In others, authorities catch gangs on port property without permission.

It can also be dangerous for young criminals, called collectors. Recently, a group of nine men called emergency services when they got trapped in a container and oxygen levels were low.

The container was carrying cargo which was absorbing oxygen, and the unit door was blocked by other cargo.

All the men were arrested following a medical examination. One of the suspects, an 18-year-old, had been arrested six times on port property in recent weeks.

Authorities often find it difficult to prove that those arrested for trespassing on port property are involved in drug trafficking, due to a lack of prosecution evidence. Of the 110 suspects detained in September, only 16 have been brought to justice.

Prosecutors can only impose a fine for unauthorized access to the port area.

Gangs usually unload drugs at night but arrive at port earlier, sometimes hidden in sea containers. They then smuggle the drugs out of the port for delivery to the customer.

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