Many Rotterdam explosions linked to port drug seizures, mayor says

The increasing number of explosions in Rotterdam is due to the successful interception of drugs at the port of Rotterdam, according to mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb. It shows the trend that drug criminals don’t only target their rivals but also their rivals’ relatives.

Various parties in the Rotterdam city council wanted to know from Aboutaleb what is going on in the city, which has been increasingly shaken by explosions at homes in recent months. According to Aboutelb, there were 49 such explosions in 2022.

Two and a half months into this year, there have already been 24 explosions at Rotterdam homes. The police arrested 16 people for the explosions last year and four so far this year.

“The police and Public Prosecution Service (OM) think that the wave of attacks can largely be linked to the success of the HARC team in the port,” said Aboutaleb. The Hit And Run Cargo (HARC) team is a collaboration between customs, FIOD, seaport police, and the OM in Rotterdam, among others. In 2022, the team intercepted almost 47,000 kilograms of cocaine at the port of Rotterdam.

“So many drugs are seized that drug criminals start blaming each other for why a shipment has disappeared.” That’s why the police and OM always announce drug seizures as soon as they happen to prevent those accusations and retaliations.

The mayor said he noticed a difference from previous years in the number of attacks, their severity, and the ease with which they happen. He spoke of a trend, a “harrowing phenomenon,” where criminals go after not only rivals but also their families.

As measures against the wave of explosions, he mentioned extra patrols, extra surveillance, and a separate team to investigate the attacks.

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