Girl (13) arrested carrying 100g of cocaine
Girl accompanied by youth (18) arrived in Amsterdam on flight from Curacao
The 13-year-old girl was arrested amid throngs of holiday passengers arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
Police and social workers in the Netherlands will spend Christmas Eve trying to trace the family of a 13-year-old girl found carrying up to 100g of cocaine in her body cavities when she was arrested amid throngs of holiday passengers arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
The girl – the youngest person ever arrested for attempted drug smuggling at Schiphol and perhaps at any European airport – is being held in custody alone after an 18-year-old youth accompanying her was found to be carrying nothing illegal and was released after questioning.
The two teenagers are understood to have arrived in Amsterdam on board a flight from the former Dutch colony of Curacao, a Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela – a route that has become notorious in recent years as the Netherlands’ “cocaine highway”.
“We see a lot of this but we are very, very shocked at the age of this little girl”, said Robert van Kapel, a spokesman for the Marechaussee, the military police unit which runs security at Schiphol – and despite whom around 20,000kg of cocaine is smuggled through the airport every year.
Although “soft drugs” are legal in the Netherlands if they are bought and consumed in licensed “coffee shops”, cocaine is illegal.
Imported from the Caribbean, it fetches at least €75,000 a kilo on the street. As a result, smugglers will risk almost anything – and business is booming.
“It’s Christmas, and our overwhelming response is that it is sad that such a young girl is being used for drug trafficking – and for that reason we want to proceed very carefully with this case,” said Van Kapel.
The girl, who was picked out for a search and X-ray during a routine “100 per cent check” of all passengers on her flight, was handed over to Dutch police who, in turn, have placed her in the care of Amsterdam’s social services.
The social workers are believed to have established that the girl is a native of Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, a major tourism destination for Dutch holidaymakers – and are attempting to get in touch with her family there. Police want to know for whom she was carrying the drug.
So big a problem has the “cocaine highway” become that flights from Curacao are known as “cocaine flights” and drugs mules are known as “cocaine coolies” or “little ball swallowers” – a reference to the rubber balls dipped in wax, typically containing eight to 10 grammes of cocaine.
The biggest single number of arrests was in 2002 when 95 separate smugglers booked themselves, thinking they were unlikely to be checked, on a flight carrying then Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife, Princess Maxima.