Netherlands, Belgium supplant Spain as main gateways into Europe for cocaine

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Belgium and the Netherlands have become the main hubs for cocaine trafficking to Europe, supplanting Spain as the main route of entry into European countries, Europol said.

The report from the European police agency noted that criminal organisations, from Colombia especially, are using the ports of Rotterdam (Netherlands), Hamburg (Germany) and especially Antwerp (Belgium) to bring the drugs into the Netherlands, from where they are transported throughout Europe.

“The epicentre of the cocaine market in Europe has shifted northwards,” the report, drawn up in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said.

The increasing use of containerised cargo, relying on the large capacities of the port terminals of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg “have consolidated the role of the Netherlands as a transit area” for cocaine, according to the report.

Photo: A general view of a ship at the Antwerp harbour, in Antwerp, Belgium. The Port of Antwerp is Europe’s second-largest seaport, after Rotterdam. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND

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