Maximum sentences for serious drug-related crimes increased

Maximum sentences for serious drug-related crimes increased

The most severe forms of drug-related crime may soon be cracked down on. The organised crime involved in hard drugs has changed and hardened enormously in recent decades. Therefore, there will be more room to demand and impose higher penalties in criminal cases involving hard drugs, such as the large-scale import and export of cocaine and the production of synthetic drugs. 

To this end, Justice and Security Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius today put into (internet) consultation a bill to increase the maximum sentences on hard drug offences. Stocking hard drugs presently carries a maximum prison sentence of 6 years. The bill changes that to a maximum prison sentence of 8 years. For deliberate trafficking and production of hard drugs, the maximum prison sentence increases from 8 to 12 years, for importing and exporting hard drugs from 12 to 16 years and for committing preparatory acts for hard drugs offences from 6 to 8 years.

“Penalties for hard drug offences have remained virtually unchanged in recent times. Meanwhile, the Netherlands has developed into a major producer of synthetic drugs and transit country of hard drugs. This has a pull effect on internationally operating crime and puts pressure on our national security. These are criminals for whom extortion, intimidation and murder are part of the business model. Hard drugs involve big money and criminal gangs will do anything to take their illegal trade further. By updating the maximum penalty for hard drugs, we will send a strong signal that this type of crime will not be tolerated and strong action will be taken,” says Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius.

According to Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, punishment is the final piece in tackling organised crime. This government is investing heavily in preventing young people from being recruited and our economic infrastructure from being abused by criminals. Investigative services are dealing hard blows in disrupting and breaking up criminal networks thanks to cracking encrypted communication services, such as EncroChat, SkyECC and Exclu.

At the same time, it can be seen that in cases against the most severe category of drug criminals, the public prosecution service’s sentencing demands are now at the upper end of the legal maximum prison sentences. Courts also impose very high sentences in such cases, sometimes up to the legal maximum. Usually, those accused of serious drug offences are also on trial for other offences, such as participation in a criminal organisation, threats, possession of automatic firearms and money laundering. The maximum sentences for these types of related offences in organised crime have already been increased over the years.

By now also raising the maximum sentence for hard drug offences, more room and flexibility will be given to determine what sentence or sentence demand is appropriate given the circumstances of specific cases. Also, by increasing the maximum sentences for hard drug offences, the Netherlands will be more in line with surrounding countries when it comes to the criminal law approach to serious drug crime, often committed in the context of a criminal organisation.

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