Belgium and the Netherlands: in the grips of the drug mafia?

The debate over how to tackle organised crime has reignited in Belgium and the Netherlands: the Dutch ex-minister of justice, Ferdinand Grapperhaus, is under heavy protection due to murder threats, and an eleven-year-old girl died in Antwerp last week after shots were fired at a flat in a violent altercation between drug gangs. Commentators call for a crackdown.

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De Tijd (BE) /

Fight on all fronts

Society must not lose heart now, warns De Tijd:

“The death of a child threatens to lead to despondency and the assumption that we are losing the battle. ... The only way to make progress is to fight on as many fronts as possible. This fight begins with the citizens, who need to realise that their drug use is directly related to violence. It continues with the police, who need to be strengthened in order to break the profit model behind drugs. And it ends with international cooperation to ensure that there are no longer safe havens for drug lords anywhere in the world.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Drain the swamp

The drug mafia has a detrimental impact on everyone's lives, warns De Telegraaf:

“Criminal organisations like the [Dutch] Mocro Mafia remain a major dark force despite the arrests of their leaders. This will not change until their lifeline is cut: money. The authorities must do more to confiscate the drug criminals' enormous wealth. ... Ports must be better monitored. The army deployed if necessary. ... If criminals lose their trade, their lifeline dries up. Then our country can free itself from the stranglehold of the drug mafia, and dozens of judges, politicians and journalists will get their lives back.”

De Standaard (BE) /

High time to implement existing plans

De Standaard says tougher measures against the drug cartels in Belgium are the wrong approach:

“Everyone involved knows what the problem is. The federal criminal police are too understaffed and underfunded to carry out the necessary complex investigations. ... And it's also clear what needs to be done. There is already a plan to improve cooperation between the authorities, strengthen controls and plug leaks. ... Instead of inventing new functions, targeting consumers and creating pointless new consultation structures, let's first better implement what already exists.”