The Netherlands – The police dismantled 20 percent more synthetic drug production sites last year than in 2021. However, fewer hemp plantations were discovered in 2022 than in previous years. The number of drug waste dumps found also decreased. You can read that – and more – in the National Overview of Drug Locations 2022.
In total, 105 production locations were found last year where synthetic drugs, heroin and/or cocaine were produced. The number of synthetic drug laboratories discovered by the police increased by 20 percent in 2022 and is therefore at the same level as in 2019 and previous years. “In 2020, a record number of locations were dismantled, partly thanks to information from cryptocommunications,” says national drug portfolio holder Willem Woelders. ‘In 2021 we saw a sharp drop in the number of discovered drug labs. We suspect that the market has recovered from those interventions within a year. And that is worrying, because the production of drugs disrupts our society. Young people are lured into an unscrupulous, violent world by fast money. The police is therefore fully committed to tackling drug production and trafficking. And not only in the Netherlands, as a source country we bear a great responsibility because the drugs produced in the Netherlands are distributed all over the world.’
Drug labs also brought a lot of unsafe situations in 2022. ‘Three fires, four explosions and two situations involving chemical steam or vapour’, Woelders sums up.
The number of accidents involving drug labs has therefore doubled in the past year compared to 2021. And that is worrying,’ he says. “Not only the safety of the criminals themselves, but also of local residents is at stake.”
Amphetamine remains the drug with the most manufacturing sites (38) discovered. This is followed by methamphetamine (15) and MDMA (15). ‘Criminal organizations are polydrugs oriented,’ says Woelders. ‘We see more and more that production locations are used for multifunctional purposes. For example, last year we found nine drug labs where more than one type of drug was being produced, usually methamphetamine in combination with another drug.’
According to Woelders, the increase in the number of production locations for GHB was also striking: from 3 in 2021 to 13 in 2022. ‘The reason for this increase is unknown,’ says Woelders, ‘But it does indicate that there is considerable demand for this drug .’
In 2022, a striking number of cocaine extraction locations (17) were found. In addition, only 3 large-scale cutting sites were discovered. It is possible that criminal organizations have changed their methods and are now smuggling more cocaine that has been chemically processed in carrier material, instead of smuggling via blocks.
In 2022, 1604 hemp farms will be dismantled. That was less than a year earlier when 2285 hemp farms were broken up. In addition to nurseries, 61 plug plants were also evacuated in 2022 and 33 drying plants were discovered. The number of closed grow shops will be 8 in 2022.
According to Woelders, the decrease in the number of cleared hemp farms can be explained by a number of factors. ‘The main one is that there is little capacity for this within the regional units. The use of concealing methods by growers also makes hemp farms more difficult to detect.’ According to Woelders, far fewer reports of cannabis farms will also be made to Report Crime Anoniem in 2022.
‘Dumping of drug waste can take place in different ways,’ says Woelders. ‘For example, barrels and jerry cans are dumped on country roads and in nature, in surface water, in the soil and even set on fire. The size of a dumping can also vary greatly. From a few tens to thousands of litres. In addition, dumping of empty packaging takes place, dozens of empty jerry cans and barrels are left behind in nature.’
In 2022, a total of 155 such drug waste dumps were discovered. That is a decrease of 25 percent compared to 2021 and the lowest number since 2014. Only two cases involved drug waste from cocaine production. The vast majority of the drug waste, 153 dumps, originated from the production process of synthetic drugs. Heroin-related dumping was not found in 2022.
According to Woelders, this decrease in the number of drug waste dumps found is in stark contrast to the increase in the number of discovered production locations. ‘A possible explanation for this decrease could be that the waste is stored or left behind at production sites,’ he says. ‘Another possibility is that the waste is collected by the criminal organization and discharged in an alternative manner. For example, it could be that drug waste is processed out of sight via regular waste processing streams.’
Criminals rent both large warehouses to store thousands of liters of chemicals and garages for several tens of litres. A total of 86 storage locations were found throughout the Netherlands in 2022, a decrease compared to 2021 (117). 14 fewer locations were discovered for both cocaine and synthetic drugs.
Read the whole here National Overview Drug Locations 2022 from the police.
Information source: Politie.nl