International efforts to combat organized crime intensified
The international fight against organized (drug) crime requires further intensification. Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius of Justice and Security is speaking about this today during an EU consultation with several fellow ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean.
“International drug crime is continuously shifting smuggling routes and inventing new money laundering constructions worldwide. And organized crime is ruthless in this process. With intimidation and brute force, narcoterrorism poses a threat to the freedom and security of all of us around the world. Only by increasing collaboration with other countries can we further tackle and dismantle these internationally operating criminal networks,” expressed Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius.
Cooperation with Latin American countries and the Caribbean region is especially necessary in the fight against international drug crime. The aim is to strengthen collaboration both between European investigation and control services, such as the police, the Public Prosecution Service and Customs, and with so-called source and transit countries in the drug trade. This will enable international criminal networks to be dismantled more swiftly and the export and transit of drugs to be tackled at the source before they reach Europe.
Extradition treaty Colombia in the making
Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius is speaking separately today with her counterparts from Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. Expectations include reaching an official agreement on a bilateral extradition treaty with the latter country in the near future, as well as a mutual legal assistance treaty between the Netherlands and Colombia. Over a year ago, the Minister of Justice and Security visited Colombia to strengthen ties.
Peru, like Colombia, is a cocaine production country, and Ecuador is increasingly being used as a transit country to transport the drugs to Europe and elsewhere in the world. Large shipments of cocaine from Ecuador have recently been seized by Customs and investigative agencies at the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp as well as in Spain. It is precisely by strengthening cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries that drugs can be stopped more often before they reach Europe. Further agreements were made on this in a joint declaration signed today, which will allow services in the EU and Latin America to connect more effectively and cooperate more efficiently.
More united front
At the initiative of Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, the so-called 6-country coalition was concluded last October between Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Criminals earn tremendous profits from the sale of drugs, for which the legal infrastructure is abused and the criminal profits thus gained are channelled through underground banking. To better tackle this internationally, efforts are now underway to strengthen EU legislation and cooperation agreements, including in the field of crypto trade and preventing abuse of our legal infrastructure such as seaports, airports and postal and parcel services.
Criminals always look for the path of least resistance in this regard. Earlier this year, the Netherlands and Belgium also made agreements with shipowners to improve joint efforts to tackle drug crime in the Rotterdam and Antwerp ports, which are seen as a single operating area for organized crime. Even better, according to Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, would be if EU-wide uniform standards for port security measures and cargo control were to be established. Ultimately, what is needed is to present a global front, for example by using existing regulations in dealing with terrorist threats in the effort to combat organized crime worldwide.
“The threat of serious and ruthless organized crime to our constitutional state is now comparable to that of terrorism. This is narcoterrorism, in which fear is deliberately instilled: with explosives in residential areas and through, for example, the filming and distribution of footage immediately after the assassination of Peter R. de Vries. This is a fight against criminal forces that threaten our free society and European values,” said Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius