September 14, 2006


U.S. urges Dutch to toughen drug policy

AMSTERDAM--The United States' anti-drug chief and a Dutch police commander were touring Amsterdam's red-light district recently when a man approached the U.S. law enforcement delegation. "Ecstasy? Viagra? Cocaina?" he whispered to a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman. The Dutch cop shrugged. DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson grimaced. Drug dealers are bold here. Drugs, especially the club drug Ecstasy, are cheap and plentiful. Dutch police mostly look the other way, preferring to focus on property crimes and public nuisances.

It's added up to a 100 million-pill-a-year problem for the USA, where authorities have become increasingly frustrated at how the Netherlands' laissez faire approach to drug enforcement has allowed Ecstasy labs to flourish here.

The Netherlands has become the dominant supplier of the synthetic hallucinogenic drug that has exploded in popularity among U.S. teens and young adults.

U.S. officials say about 80% of the 2 million Ecstasy pills flowing into the USA each week are manufactured on Dutch soil. U.S. Customs officers stationed in New York City-area airports, the most popular Ecstasy smuggling hubs, say they can make a bust every other day just by targeting passengers from flights that have passed through the Netherlands.

...U.S. law enforcement officials want the Dutch to become less hospitable to Ecstasy's manufacturers and smugglers, but they have little power to make that happen. The Netherlands is a wealthy ally that cannot be pushed into tougher drug enforcement with the promise of U.S. aid or the threat of sanctions. Instead, U.S. officials are trying to politely persuade the Dutch to see it their way.

...The Dutch have made significant busts since creating a synthetic-drug law enforcement division in 1997. In 2000, Dutch authorities dismantled 23 Ecstasy labs, the U.S. State Department says. Dutch officials say they intend to close more Ecstasy labs with five new anti-drug squads. The Dutch parliament recently approved a five-year, $35 million program aimed at reducing the Ecstasy supply, and the Dutch justice minister has suggested a registration system for pillmaking machines.

U.S. officials appreciate the moves. But they say the Netherlands' underlying tolerance of drugs undermines
the crackdowns. Penalties for dealing and manufacturing drugs are not stiff enough to discourage it, they say. "They have a permissive drug policy that has a natural way of attracting those who want to engage in illegal behavior, and they have a weak law enforcement structure," Hutchinson says.

Ecstasy is illegal in the Netherlands. The Dutch, however, regard drug use primarily as a health issue rath
er than as a crime problem, so they focus their efforts on preventing drug use rather than law enforcement. Licensed shops in the Netherlands sell marijuana for individual use, and the government provides free needles and clean rooms where heroin addicts can shoot up. Addicts who become a nuisance are steered toward treatment. The large-scale dealers and manufacturers who are prosecuted rarely spend more than a year or two in prison.

Read entire article here


Deb357 said...

And you wonder why people in the USA are having such drug problems. If there were none available there would be no more problems.

Crack down harder on these drug rings. Crack down harder on the imports of drugs coming in air, land or sea. As the old cowboys say...

Get er done!

Anonymous said...

get er done is right!

The Netherlands are for the drugs and freedom. They want it both ways.

Anonymous said...

The Dutch is buddy of Bush, they are not Friend of America who died for their freedom from the Nazi. History is unravelling that some Dutch were the supporters of the Nazi Hitler. These Lowland Dutch were helping the Germans to build the sea wall steel crosses to barricade the Allied Normandy Invasion. Many Dutch these days are backstabbers, and no friends of USA. Serously, they might had sold the uranimum cooling process to Iran.