How come the the drug industry is so big in The Netherlands?
“The Netherlands has built up a certain tolerant reputation at an early stage. We were slower than other countries with the banning of amphetamine and xtc. In addition, the chance of being caught and the punishment here are very low compared to other countries. In China, the death penalty hangs over you as a drug criminal. And: The Netherlands has an ideal location for production and distribution and a good image. The quality of the drugs produced here is high. ”
Your research is only about synthetic drugs. What is the size of the Dutch drug trade when we include for example weed?
“One thing is for sure: a lot of money is being earned with drugs here in general. With hemp probably more than with synthetic drugs. From a study by the University of Tilburg and the surrounding area it turned out to be 800 million euros in terms of hemp. It would be good if the government mapped the total size. Statistics Netherlands estimated the ecstasy trade at only 160 million, which is too low. ”
Where do the profits actually go?
“Partly it goes back to the ‘normal’ economy. Drug banks, for example, launder their money through foreign tax constructions and invest in Dutch property. But we do not know exactly what the big boys make and what they do with the profits. There should also be more research on this. We do know that a ‘lab technician’ already earns around € 15,000 per week! You understand: it is very attractive to thousands. ”
It is a rather invisible world. Many Dutch people may think: as long as I do not suffer from it…?
“That is very short-sighted, because we are already bothered by it. Take the ‘occasional’ explosions of drug labs or the deaths during the production. I am more concerned with the structural position of power that the world of drugs can acquire with millions in ‘our’ world. That drug lords get a substantial part of the buildings in a municipality. Really, that should be a headache for every mayor. ”
Dutch Justice Minister Grapperhaus promises to give the approach ‘top priority’. Do you believe that?
“Yes, he has already made a strong case for it. The question is: is the government aware of the necessity? We have to invest in police and detective work to, among other things, and increase the chance of being caught.”
This translation was originally written in Dutch by Eefje Oomen
First published in Het Algemeen Dagblad