Rotterdam warehouse fake walls found to conceal vast drug stockpile

Methamphetamine haul by police was 2,500kg as Netherlands deemed transit zone

Some of the methamphetamine seized in Rotterdam: four large operations have been “rolled up” so far this year. Photograph: Dutch police/Handout

Some of the methamphetamine seized in Rotterdam: four large operations have been “rolled up” so far this year. Photograph: Dutch police/Handout

 

Dutch narcotics police have discovered a massive 2,500kg of methamphetamine hidden in the false walls of a warehouse near the port of Rotterdam – in what they say is the largest single seizure of the drug ever made in Europe.

In a follow-up raid on a lock-up in Utrecht, about 60km away, armed detectives also found 17,500 litres of chemicals that can be used for “washing” cocaine to remove impurities or in the manufacture of synthetic drugs, such as crystal meth.

In unusually candid comments on the haul – estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of euro – a police spokesman said it was new evidence that the Netherlands was being used to manufacture crystal meth, though relatively little of it is sold or consumed here.

“The drugs go from hand to hand before they are marketed, which is why it is difficult to give a street value. Based on what we have seen, we believe that as far as methamphetamines are concerned, the Netherlands is a transit country.”

Crystal meth

There has been a notable increase in the number of crystal meth laboratories being discovered. Including these latest raids in Rotterdam and Utrecht – which happened last week but were revealed on Wednesday – four operations of significant size have been “rolled up” so far this year.

Of the other three, one was on board a “drug boat” near Moerdijk in the south of the country; another was in Wateringen, near The Hague, where €80 million worth of methamphetamine was found; and the third – the most brazen – was in an apartment in the busy centre of The Hague itself.

Use of methamphetamine is most common in the US and southeast Asia. Police revealed that in two of the Dutch cases there had been Mexican suspects involved.

Mexican link

One of those Mexicans was from the Sinaloa region, where the local drug cartel was described in 2010 as “the most powerful drug trafficking organisation in the world”.

The size of the Rotterdam haul, the customisation of the location, and its proximity to the port – where corrupt workers can earn between €75,000 and €125,000 per shipment they help move safely – all lead police to believe this has been the most significant raid so far.

They found nothing when they entered the warehouse, and it was only when they noticed that the dimensions of the upper floor were bigger from the outside than from the inside that they found fake walls packed full of drugs.

They refused to say whether any arrests had been made. However, the indications are that they believe Mexican cartels may be planning to push highly addictive crystal meth in markets across Europe, using the Netherlands as a base.