The Netherlands Is At Risk Of Becoming A Narco State
A quiet suburban neighborhood in Amsterdam witnessed a bloody shooting this past September that is bringing attention to the growth of drug-related violence in the Netherlands. Derk Wiersum was murdered outside his home during broad daylight in an act meant to frighten and intimidate civilians and local law enforcement. Coincidentally, just a month prior to the attack, Dutch Minister of Justice and Security, Ferdinand Grapperhaus, publicly stated that “The Netherlands is at risk of becoming a narco state.”
A narco state is a country whose economy is dependent on the trade if illegal drugs. Although the Dutch economy is not currently defined by the drug industry, it is an illicit market which has increasing influence on its society. The Netherlands has been described as a central hub for the global drug market due to its many transit ports and the large number of synthetic drugs being produced in the country and distributed around the world.
The death of Wiersum marked the first time in Dutch history that the criminal world murdered a legal representative of the state. The lawyer was representing Nabil B, a key witness against two of the Netherlands’ most wanted suspects. Ridouan Taghi was detained last month while attempting to enter Dubai and held under an international arrest warrant for murder and drug trafficking. The organization he leads, known as “Angels of Death,” is linked to nine assassinations, including that of Derk Wiersum. The arrest was considered a great success, but unfortunately many have doubts that it will prevent young people from following in his footsteps.
The Netherlands’ tolerant approach towards drug use and its low penalties for drug-related crimes have contributed to the country’s position as a top producer for drugs. The country is famous for its “gedoodbeleid” or “policy of tolerance” that leads to non-enforcement of soft drug offenses. Distinctions between soft drugs and hard drugs are made under the Opium law of the Netherlands. Drugs with a low risk of harm and/or addiction such as hash, marijuana, sleeping pills, and sedatives are considered “soft drugs.” Hard drugs include heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD, and ecstasy. These substances are considered to have a higher risk of harm and addiction.
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The extensive transport network and transit ports in the Netherlands has turned it into the central distribution hub for marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine. A majority of soft drugs are imported from South America and North Africa but a significant amount of the world’s synthetic drugs are produced within the country itself. Substances such as MDMA, LSD, amphetamines, and GHB are being transported around the globe, and an estimated 18.8 billion euros ($20.75 billion) worth of ecstasy pills are being produced in Amsterdam yearly. The market is not only big, but it moves quickly as well. On the day Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, orange “Trumpies” ecstasy tablets were found on the streets and 24 hours later they were being sold in Australia. Drugs are becoming harder, profit margins are getting larger, and a new generation of drug crime lords are taking over.
From The Underworld To The Upper World
There has been a steady increase in drug related violence and at least 50 homicides linked to the criminal networks in greater Amsterdam within the last 7 years. Police complain that they are understaffed and unprepared to handle the rise of crime resulting from the flourishing drug trade. Young people growing up in areas ignored by the government and tourists are turning to crime in hopes of making a living. Drug business and violence is going from underground to broad daylight with lawyers, mayors and police officers being threatened by organized crime. There is growing concern over the way the drug economy is undermining and threatening the legitimate economy and society of the Netherlands.
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The country has moved from consuming drugs to producing them on a global scale, creating a lucrative black market. Today, about 59% of Dutch citizens believe the country is now a narco-state. According to chairman of the biggest Dutch police union, Jan Struijs, “If you look at the infrastructure, the big money earned by organized crime, the parallel economy. Yes, we have a narco-state.”
Ginni Correa is a Latinx writer and activist living in Orlando,FL. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and double majored in Psychology and Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies. After graduation, Ginni worked as an educator in public schools and an art therapist in a behavioral health hospital where she found a passion working with at-risk populations and advocating for social justice and equality. She is also experienced in translating and interpreting with an emphasis in language justice and creating multilingual spaces.
Ginni’s mission is to build awareness and promote resources that can help people transform their lives. She believes in the importance of ending stigma surrounding mental health and substance abuse while creating more accessible treatment in communities. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, crafting, and attending music festivals.
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