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Six EU countries agree to strengthen cross-border cooperation against drug crimes

The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Spain have agreed to strengthen their cooperation with Latin American countries to fight organized crime, in particular drug trafficking.

At a meeting of ministers and officials on Friday in Amsterdam, a city hit by drug-related violence in recent years, the six countries pledged to strengthen ports and maritime security, as well as boost their use. technology to fight criminal gangs.

Amsterdam has seen a series of violent crimes in recent years, including the murder of crime reporter Peter R. de Vries and a lawyer representing a witness in a gang killing investigation.

The Netherlands and Belgium are home to the main ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, two of the main entry points for cocaine into Europe.

More than 214 tons of drugs were seized in Europe in 2020, a 6% increase on the previous year, and experts from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction estimate that this quantity could reach 300 tons this year.

Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, who attended the meeting, was taken into protective custody last month after four people were arrested for their alleged links to drug traffickers who were plotting to kidnap the man Politics.

“I think we’ve entered a new phase, a new phase called narco-terrorism, a phase where narco-terrorists are trying to destabilize society and take their hold on society,” Van Quickenborne said.

“And of course we will never allow our countries to become narco-states like you sometimes see in Latin America.”

With an estimated market value of €10.5 billion in 2020 and around 3.5 million European citizens reporting having used it in the past year, cocaine is the second most widely used drug in the EU after cannabis.

The expansion of the cocaine market has been accompanied by a rise in violence and corruption in the EU, with fierce competition between traffickers leading to an increase in homicides and intimidation.

“Criminals don’t know borders, so we have to work together,” Van Quickenborne said after the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the European Union’s police and justice agencies Europol and Eurojust, as well as officials from the European Commission.

euronews Gt

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