Protecting European ports from drug trafficking: Federal Minister of the Interior Faeser meets with mayors of Hamburg, Antwerp and Rotterdam

Protecting European ports from drug trafficking: Federal Minister of the Interior Faeser meets with mayors of Hamburg, Antwerp and Rotterdam

type:
press release

, Date:
25 April 2024

Organised crime at ports must be combated comprehensively and across national borders

Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser today hosted a meeting in Berlin with Dr Peter Tschentscher, Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, and his counterparts from Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, and Antwerp, Bart De Wever. For the government of the Netherlands, Eric van der Burg, Minister for Migration, also took part in the meeting on behalf of Minister of Justice and Security Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius. Belgian Ambassador Geert Muylle represented his country on behalf of Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden. Their discussion focused on the joint fight against organised crime and on forging closer cooperation to strengthen security at European ports.

Like Federal Minister Faeser, the three mayors travelled earlier this year to South America, where they visited key countries of transit and origin for cocaine in order to see first-hand how transnational organised crime structures are being combated there and to intensify cooperation with South American partners.

Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said: “We want to turn up the pressure on the international drug cartels even further. We need to make our seaports secure enough so that they are no longer gateways for tonnes of cocaine. Germany’s Federal Government and our security authorities will do everything in our power to achieve this. I’m pleased that the mayors of Hamburg, Antwerp and Rotterdam are working so hard on this issue and that we’re taking action together, including effectively fighting corruption within the companies that operate at the ports. However, it is also clear that drug trafficking must be stopped at a much earlier point. We need strong investigative pressure along the entire logistical chain. That is why I have agreed with South American countries to take action together against the criminals operating behind the scenes and to uncover financial structures. In Hamburg on 7 May, we will bring our different measures together at a major conference with European countries.”

Dr. Peter Tschentscher, First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg: “Hamburg, Rotterdam and Antwerp are fighting together against the import of drugs through their ports and will take every opportunity to disrupt the cartels’ supply chains. Drug smuggling is always looking for new channels, so we need a strong alliance between ports and national governments. Developments in Rotterdam and Antwerp have shown that drug use and smuggling lead to a dangerous expansion of organized crime as a whole. We need to prevent this in Hamburg. The future Port Security Center, in which the security authorities of Hamburg and the Federal Government will work together under one roof, is an important step. In addition, we must improve the exchange of information with the security authorities in the countries of origin of drugs and strengthen the defensive mechanisms of our ports. I would like to thank Federal Minister Faeser for her excellent cooperation.”

Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam: “As port cities, we experience the severe consequences of international trade in drugs every day. Although it is not the responsibility of mayors and local government to combat this, we do feel the responsibility. We work together with our police forces and customs on this. However we also urgently need our national governments and the EU to act immediately. Doing nothing means that we accept that vulnerable neighbourhoods in our cities will be taken over by organised crime.”

Bart De Wever, Mayor of Antwerp: “I was very grateful for the decision of Mayor Tschentscher and the port of Hamburg to join forces in the strong alliance between Rotterdam and Antwerp. We need to make a stand against drug criminals in Europe and the corruption of our society by criminal money. Our ports do everything they can to increase awareness of this major threat. I am therefore especially pleased that German Federal Minister of the Interior Faeser is taking the recommendations of the three largest ports in Europe to heart. It is crucial that our national governments are committed to this fight and allocate more people and resources. Cooperation between police and judicial services in Europe is also of the utmost importance. Only by working together, within Europe and with source countries in Latin America, can we fight organized crime effectively.”

The volume of drugs, particularly cocaine, from South America that are seized in Europe has steadily increased. In 2023 alone, 35 tonnes of cocaine were seized in Germany, 59.1 tonnes in the Netherlands and 116 tonnes in Belgium. The major ports in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg serve as the gateways to Europe for illegal drugs.

Germany is actively working to stop this trend, and its measures focus particularly on reinforcing the efforts taken by the port cities. As part of the coalition of European countries fighting serious and organised crime, Germany is working with Belgium and the Netherlands on measures to increase port security across national borders. Close cooperation between Germany’s federal and state governments is absolutely essential to this effort, as is close cooperation between the police and customs authorities at national and international level.  The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), for example, is participating in a project to address the infiltration of North Sea ports by organised crime structures. This project is intended to make these ports better able to fend off criminal penetration of their operations. 

Along with Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain, Germany is part of the Coalition of European countries against serious and organised crime. Federal Minister Faeser will host the next ministerial meeting of this coalition in Hamburg on 7 May 2024; port security and the resilience of logistical hubs will be key topics addressed at the meeting.

Originally published at https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/pressemitteilungen/EN/2024/04/buergermeister-hafenstaedte-en.html;jsessionid=691010F11B4252BDB7814AE662619C68.live892

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