Drug criminals are increasingly targeting truck drivers to bribe, threaten and harass them to transport drugs from ports outside the Netherlands. RTL News Report after researching the road traffic sector.

Over the past few months, the station has investigated how drug criminals affect road traffic in the Netherlands. We spoke to over 50 truck drivers who have received offers or threats from criminals over the past three years.

Tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine flow into the port of Rotterdam each year. Truck drivers are very attractive to criminals because criminals have to take drugs from containers in the port and transport them to Europe.

A director of a trucking company told RTL that one of its drivers was involved in an armed robbery. He was about to leave Hoek van Holland but had to stop because his car broke down. Two men pointed guns at his head while others opened his container and took out a package of narcotics. “This is not normal.

One driver said he found a note under his windshield wiper asking “if you want to make extra money” with a link to your Telegram account. The other two were approached in the middle of the night by a group of young men at a gas station on the A16 motorway. “They were about half a dozen guys. They wore expensive brands and were all well-dressed.” The mood changed when the truckers proved uninterested. “They said if we refused, it would go in a direction we didn’t want. And they would know where we lived.”

Another truck driver visited the home. The criminals pressured him to retrieve the container from the port of Rotterdam. He refused it, and many times he noticed cars driving down the street. Later, I also found a GPS tracker taped to the bottom of the truck. Authorities searched the container and found tens of millions of euros worth of cocaine, RTL said. “I was anxious for a long time. It literally woke me up,” said the truck driver. “My failure to cooperate caused a great deal of damage to the organization.”

In 2021, the police set up a special task force, Transportation Facilitated Organized Crime (TFOC), to combat drug crime in road transport. The team receives about 150 reports a year of suspicious situations from truck drivers. Captain Michael Dopp expects this to be just the tip of the iceberg. “As drug crime has increased, so have the cases against truck drivers,” Dopp told RTL News.

According to Dop, mass transit, where one truck carries a variety of packages, is particularly vulnerable to drug smuggling. “Certainly, travel to Scandinavia and England is popular with criminals. Drug prices are much higher there, so smuggling into these countries can be very lucrative.”

And truck drivers caught abroad with drugs in their cargo could face lengthy prison sentences if they can’t prove their innocence.

The industry group, the Dutch Transport and Logistics Authority (TLN), is also concerned about the intrusion of drug criminals into the industry. “Three-quarters of the containers that leave the container terminal in Rotterdam by road are unloaded, stored and then transported by other trucks in the area. Companies that are actively working on container shipping are finding the problem is growing,” TLN’s Paul Popink told RTL.

The organization has also heard reports of truck drivers approaching criminals. “A truck driver runs away from a container terminal and is followed. At the first red light a car stops next to them and the windows drop. But we also see other employees of the transportation company being approached, such as planners. It is done in all sorts of ways. Not only when you’re on the go, but also in private moments such as football clubs, pubs and social media. I hear it’s happening on dating sites too,” Popink said.

https://nltimes.nl/2023/06/06/drug-criminals-increasingly-targeting-truckers-netherlands-report Drug offenders targeting truck drivers on the rise in Holland: report