Cannabis cultivated and synthetic drugs produced in the Netherlands are exported to foreign markets; the Netherlands is also a transit country for heroin and cocaine. Cannabis cultivation occurs mainly indoors, and only a small number of open-air sites have been dismantled and reported. In 2015, almost 6 000 cannabis plantations were dismantled, maintaining an increasing trend since 2011.
The number of production units of synthetic stimulants reported to be dismantled has also increased in recent years, and a similar trend has occurred with regard to reports of storage places and dumping sites for chemicals used in the production of synthetic drugs. While most of the dismantled laboratories were involved in the production of amphetamine and MDMA and/or the conversion of precursors for the production processes, methamphetamine and, most recently, possible mephedrone production activity have also been reported, albeit on a small scale.
Heroin mainly originates from Afghanistan and is trafficked to the Netherlands via the Balkan route. Turkish crime groups seem to play an important role in the Dutch heroin market.
Cocaine is most commonly shipped directly from South America or via intermediary African countries by sea and, to a lesser extent, by air. The Netherlands is primarily a transit country for both heroin and cocaine.
In recent years, drug trade over the internet has emerged as a new business model. There are a considerable number of online (clearnet) shops offering NPS, although their role may be diminishing. In contrast, the size of illicit drug trafficking on the dark net is increasing; a considerable number of vendors reportedly operate from the Netherlands.
Drug seizures in the Netherlands: quantities seized
NB Year of data 2015.
Data on drug seizures in the Netherlands are collected centrally by the National Police Agency. The register includes data from the regional police departments, customs, the Royal Military Police and the Synthetic Drugs Unit (part of the National Police Force). However, not all departments report their data each year, which, in conjunction with the lack of a uniform registration system, hampers data quality. The most complete reporting dates back to 2012.
The minimum and maximum retail price and purity of the main illicit substances seized in the Netherlands are shown below. Data collected on the prices in the coffee shops indicate that the mean price of cannabis resin was EUR 9.20/g in 2015, the mean price of domestically produced cannabis was EUR 10.20/g and the mean price of imported herbal cannabis (‘skunk’) was EUR 4.90/g. Information available through the drug information and monitoring system indicates the following mean retail prices for other illicit drugs in the Netherlands in 2015: heroin (brown) — EUR 38.70/g; cocaine — EUR 50.80/g; amphetamine — EUR 7.25/g; and MDMA — EUR 4/g. Tackling and counteracting organised crime groups involved in production and trafficking of ‘established’ illicit drugs is the key priority in supply reduction field; multidisciplinary enforcement activities primarily take place at regional level. Specialised police units and teams are also in place to deal with investigative and enforcement activities related to cannabis cultivation and production of synthetic stimulants, as well as to deal with money laundering linked to illicit drug trade. To address international drug-related crime, the Netherlands has developed close cooperation or joint actions with all neighbouring countries.
Price and potency/purity ranges of illicit drugs reported in the Netherlands
NBPrice and potency/purity ranges: EU and national mean values: minimum and maximum. Year of data 2015.