Several municipalities in the northern provinces of Friesland and Groningen have expressed concerns about a potential surge in drug-related crime within their ports. A new investigation by NOS has found that a number of factors contribute to this unease. These include the increasing volume of cargo traffic through these ports, the complexity of the supply chains involved, and the growing sophistication of drug smuggling methods.
In Friesland, the major ports include Harlingen and Lauwersoog while Delfzijl stands out as the main port of Groningen. Positioned along the North Sea coastline, these three harbors manage a considerable amount of cargo movement, which makes them attractive for drug smugglers.
In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile drug seizures in the northern ports. In 2022, authorities at Harlingen’s customs apprehended 261 kilograms of cocaine. Similarly, in 2021, customs officials in Lauwersoog seized a 1,000-kilogram shipment of cocaine. And in 2020, Delfzijl’s customs intercepted a shipment totaling 500 kilograms of the same drug.
These seizures suggest that drug smugglers are already targeting Friesland and Groningen. And as the volume of cargo traffic through the northern harbors continues to rise, the local authorities fear drug smuggling will become even more of a problem.
To address the issue, they are increasing security at the ports, working with law enforcement agencies to improve intelligence gathering, and collaborating with other stakeholders to develop new strategies for combating drug smuggling.
At the same time, they acknowledge that it is an uphill battle as criminal syndicates have become crafty at exploiting loopholes in the system. In the meantime, the municipalities of Friesland and Groningen are urging residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.