Ports in Belgium and the Netherlands, Europe’s ‘Cocaine Superhighway,’ Tackle Drug Problem

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The ports in Antwerp, Belgium and several cities in The Netherlands are fighting to curb the illicit trade of cocaine, which is seeing somewhat of a heyday in recent years. Criminals are allegedly smuggling cocaine on shipping containers, often disguised as fruit or other goods.

To keep up with the extremely high demand for cocaine in Europe, ports in Belgium and The Netherlands, Europe’s “cocaine superhighway,” have stepped up security, Bloomberg reported Monday. Cocaine is the second most commonly used illicit drug in Europe (after cannabis, of course) according to the European Drug Report 2023.

Dutch authorities say they have been intercepting an increasing amount of cocaine in recent years. Seizures jumped 18% to 60,000 kilograms of cocaine in 2023 from a year earlier, according to the Netherlands’ customs data. 

According to findings published March 20 by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) and SCORE group, a sewage analysis spanning across Europe identified Antwerp as the cocaine capital of Europe, and it has been for several years.

Politico reports that Antwerp was once again Europe’s cocaine capital where consumption is highest per capita, according to EMCDDA’s findings, with 1,721 milligrams detected per 1,000 people per day, a slight decrease from 2022 but still enough to top the list. Five cities from the Netherlands also made it into the top 10. Three of those Dutch ports in the top 10—Amsterdam, Leeuwarden, and Rotterdam—are home to large port destinations.

Data from 2023 indicated that Antwerp set a record of 116 tons of cocaine seized, breaking the previous record of 110 set in 2022. Eight tons of the cocaine was confiscated in a single bust on a freight vessel.

“The fight against international drug trafficking requires a lot of expertise and energy from our customs,” said Vincent Van Peteghem, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. “I can only emphasize my great thanks …

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Author: Benjamin M. Adams / High Times

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