EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Dutch Police Crack Down On Drugs

  • April 15th, 2007
  • Posted by Emma Cillekens

emma-police.jpgPolice have been cracking down on illegal drug rings operating through the famous coffeshops of the Netherlands, and this week the action moved to the city of Maastricht.

Emma Cillekens travelled to Maatrict and discovered what the true meaning of a coffeeshop could be.
Coffee shops in the Netherlands are not all exactly “what you see is what you get”.

What these shops sell is about as far removed from an innocent mug of sugary coffee with marshmallow as humanly possible- a dose of drugs.

Generally they trade in small quantities of marijuana, cannabis or hash – substances are for the most part tolerated by local authorities.

However there has been a recent crackdown on some of these establishments; and in Maastricht, the Mayor, Gerd Leers decided to close two well known coffeeshops last year.

That’s had some unexpected consequences.

The Maastricht police have reported an increase in illegal drug rings flocking to the area to service the remaining clientele of the coffeeshops.

They say these operations pose a huge problem as they cannot cope with the sheer number and the negative effects of the trade.

Frans Kooiman, District Chief of the Maastricht police says all they can do is monitor the level of illegal activity.

He adds that it has got so bad police have had to call in reinforcements from neighbouring towns.

“Forty community service volunteers are working together with the police in the surveillance of the drug rings,” he says.

“Thirty more will be joining our investigation in the next year.”

He says as far a the police can tell the illegal drug rings wait in the area where the coffeeshops used to trade and take the clientele to illegal premises around the city.

A further problem is that the organised crime elements will pursue a target that is not interested in purchasing the drugs.

Many unwilling tourists and minors have been harassed, being told that if they don’t make a purchase they will be bashed and robbed.

Accidents have also occurred on main highways as a result of criminals waiting along the roadsides, trying to push drugs to passers-by.

The Mayor of Maastricht now spends “20 per cent” of his day trying to solve the problem of coffeeshops and illegal drug rings in the area.

Picture: Police Chief Frans Koiman, foreground, at a police media conference in Maastricht (12.4.07).