Substantial increase in drug dumping, concerns about water pollution

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Substantial increase in drug dumping, concerns about water pollution

The number of drug dumping in West Brabant is increasing sharply. According to the police, there are already more drug dumping in the first five months of 2023 than in the whole of 2022: 31 now compared to 22 last year. An increase can also be seen in South Holland and the North Netherlands, among others. That writes BN DeStem.

(Image: a large drug dumping in Neerkant, municipality of Deurne. Here thousands of liters of drug waste were dumped into nature from an amphetamine lab)

A new low was the dumping of 381 jerry cans with drug waste in Achtmaal (municipality of Zundert) on 22 May. This involved soil and surface water contamination due to leaking barrels.

Additional checks

The police and the Brabantse Delta Water Board are very concerned about the sudden, strong increase. The water board wants to conduct tests with ‘better measurement of pollution in the water’. In particular, extra checks at sewage treatment plants should be considered in order not only to prevent environmental damage, but also to increase the chance of being caught. After all, suspects of drug dumping are rarely arrested. A spokesperson does not want to say how this monitoring takes place and which substances the water board then looks for, ‘so as not to make criminals wiser’.

Hydrochloric acid

It has already happened several times that due to discharged drug chemicals, such as hydrochloric acid and other corrosive or toxic substances, all cleaning micro-organisms in a water treatment plant died and the installation came to a standstill. This happened, for example, in Baarle-Nassau, where the chemical trail in the sewage system led to the discovery of a large amphetamine lab in January 2017.

200 meters depth

It has never happened before that chemicals threatened to come close to a drinking water source. According to spokesman Peter Hiemstra of Brabant Water, drinking water sources are well protected against contamination from the surface: ‘Most of the 500 drinking water sources in Brabant are so deep, approximately 200 metres, that various layers of the earth, often clay, ensure that dumped chemicals do not reach the source. can come.’

Cracked chats

According to BN DeStem, the strong increase in the number of drug dumps is particularly remarkable because in recent years far fewer illegal dumps have been discovered. In 2018, for example, there were still 109 dumpings throughout North Brabant, compared to 29 dumpings in 2022. Although the investigative services have broken up many drug labs in recent years due to hacked PGP devices and ringleaders have been detained, the Netherlands remains the largest producer of synthetic drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamine. with Brabant as a time-honoured production centre.


This year, together with the National Dismantling Facility (LFO), the criminal investigation department has already dismantled nine drug labs against fourteen last year. Because Brabant is still the epicenter in terms of production, the number of dumping is also the greatest here. Many drug producers prefer not to drive around with chemical waste for very long to reduce the risk of being caught.

Drug pit

The police discovered another new trend about two years ago. More and more drug criminals are dumping chemicals unseen into sewers and surface water or directly into the soil, as happened at a drug pit in Halsteren, near Bergen op Zoom in April 2020. In a forest area, chemicals were found at a depth of six meters. Cleaning up the drug pit cost millions of euros. Similar mega discharges also took place in Neerkant and Someren and the soil had to be remediated. In Someren there was also a drug pit in nature.

‘At full speed’

Whether the current trend of drug dumping continues and what that says about the state of affairs in the drug industry remains to be seen. However, the initial analyzes of the police are not optimistic. Police spokesman Eric Passchier: ‘It seems that drug production is running at full speed again. More chemical drug waste is being dumped openly and in the worst case scenario, therefore also invisible. Then we as a society have a serious problem.’

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