Netherlands, Belgium ask shipping companies to help fight drug trafficking

The Netherlands and Belgium will engage shipping companies to help in the fight against drug trafficking through the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. This afternoon, representatives of the Dutch and Belgian Cabinets, the mayors of Rotterdam and Antwerp, and the five largest shipping companies in the world will make agreements on fighting drug imports, NOS reports.

The core of the agreements is that shipping companies will provide containers with a digital seal, which sets off an alarm if the container is opened before its destination. That should make it more challenging to hide cocaine between shipments of other goods en route to the European ports.

People who come to collect a container will also have to identify themselves with a fingerprint. And the shipping companies will give the authorities more insight into the routes that the containers travel.

Drug trafficking through the Rotterdam and Antwerp ports is a massive problem. Last year, authorities seized a record amount of cocaine at Antwerp. And the gangs involved in the trafficking are extremely violent.

“The government cannot tackle this massive problem alone,” Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius of Justice and Security said on Op1 on Thursday.

Minister Mark Harbers of Infrastructure said that shipping companies are eager to do their part in fighting this crime. “It is also in their own interest. Their employees are also being recruited and harassed,” he said on the talk show.

The Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden: “They tell us that people may no longer want to work for them because they are afraid.” People who work in crucial positions in a terminal or at a shipping company often face threats if they don’t want to cooperate with drug traffickers, she said.

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