Failures by the state to fulfil its duty, liberal drug policies, and mass immigration are quickly changing the Netherlands into a bloody scene from the Netflix hit series Narcos.
“Shall then on high / A worm, an alien, wield the greatest power?” asks the Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel in his great 1654 play, Lucifer. Four centuries later, aliens do, in fact, hold power—if not on high, then in Vondel’s very own homeland.
In the Netherlands, the average observer will probably notice the windmills, the vivid nightlife, and the tulips sooner than the struggles of a liberal society that is trying to hold together in the face of severe internal conflicts. Recent news does not bode well for those who hope for a healthy future for the Netherlands.
Just a few headlines from recent Dutch news: ‘Over €5 billion in cocaine seized at Rotterdam port last year,’ ‘Double the number of drug packages found in mail this year,’ or ‘Photos of tortured woman on Taghi’s phone may be missing Amsterdam woman.’ Ridouan Taghi, the gentleman mentioned in the last piece, is the head of the Mocro Maffia, just one of the dozen major crime organisations currently active in the Netherlands. He is now under arrest. Naima Jilal, the woman mentioned in the article, disappeared in connection to drug crime in 2019. As the article reports:
A photo on the found Blackberry [of Taghi] shows a naked woman tied to a chair with tape. … Another shows the woman’s abdomen with what appears to be a cut-off finger and a toe. A third shows the woman lying naked on her stomach on the floor. From the photos’ metadata, the police determined that they were taken on the night of 20 to 21 October 2019—the same night Jilal went missing.
These lines do not refer to the Netflix series Narcos, but to actual news from the Netherlands. But how did the once peaceful lowlands country get to this point? I’d argue that it is largely connected with the retreat of state intervention on the streets, liberal policy on drugs and prostitution, but above all, mass immigration. These, otherwise separate phenomena have been converging for decades and have now erupted to form the current conditions.
The liberalisation of the use of marijuana in the Netherlands was initiated in 1976. Since 1976, authorities across the Netherlands have chosen to openly ignore that cannabis use is illegal… and they prosecute no one in possession of less than five grams of marijuana for personal use. The policy, called gedoogbeleid, is known as the “Dutch model,” and it’s why hundreds of ‘coffee shops’ sprung up across Amsterdam and the Netherlands.
Pieter Tops, social scientist at the University of Tilburg and lecturer at the Police Academy of the Netherlands, describes this approach to drug use as a strategic mistake:
We thought we would set the world an example and we were very satisfied with it for a long time—but not anymore. … The reality is that on the one hand, we allow people to legally buy drugs in the so-called coffee shops, but on the other, prohibit the owners of these shops from buying those soft drugs. This has led to the emergence of organized criminal gangs that have found the Netherlands to be a virtual paradise not only with regards to cannabis production but the production of other, hard drugs as well.
On the list of drugs currently manufactured and exported from the Netherlands are cannabis, synthetic drugs, ecstasy and methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin. Synthetic drug production in the Netherlands generates €19 billion in a year. The Netherlands is currently one of the major drug trafficking centres of the world, with inflow from South America and the Middle East, and exporting as far as the United States and Australia. Prostitution, legalised in 2000, only pours oil on the flames. Since many women simply do not want to be registered as prostitutes, and as taxation makes legal prostitution less lucrative, illegal prostitution still runs rampant, feeding an entire class of pimps and other criminals.
But the role of immigration cannot be ignored either. According to police analysis, the illegal drug trade is dominated by Muslims—Albanian in addition to Moroccan—in Amsterdam. According to Dutch data from 2011, a disproportionate number of foreign-born prisoners were jailed for drug-related crimes (largely production, distribution, and sale, rather than use). In 2011, a third of convicted Surinamese were prosecuted for drug-related crime (33%), and a quarter of those from the Netherlands Antilles (24%), compared with 15% among prisoners born in the Netherlands. The proportion of foreign prisoners among those in prison for drug-related offenses increased steadily between 1994 and 2004, with no more recent data cited in the literature.
The police appear to be helpless. In July 2018, Amsterdam ombudsman Arre Zuurmond essentially acknowledged that in the centre of Amsterdam, “illegal” activites prevail at night. “In the city centre, criminal money is circulating at night, and the authority is no longer present,” he said to Trouw, “The police can no longer handle this situation.” According to then Amsterdam police chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, “We are dealing with homicides for 60-70% of our work, and for the rest mainly with radicalization and terrorism investigations.” This leaves little time for tackling large-scale drug trafficking. “We do not get to sufficiently investigate the structure: the real bosses in the international drug trade,” Aalbersberg said, “and we know: in a capital with this infrastructure, with the extent of drug use in the city, this is certainly part of the cause of homicides: quarrels, competition, seized parties of drugs and interests in cocaine trade.”
Young immigrant criminals are brutal, and they are ready to murder for as little as €3,000. Dutch journalist Wouter Laumans wrote a book about the drug trade in Amsterdam, in which he cites harrowing examples: two young boys were accidentally killed with Kalashnikovs during a showdown; a mother was killed in front of her children; a severed head was found in front of a coffee shop; and torture, already mentioned in connection to the Jilal case, is one of the mafia’s frequently employed methods. In 2020, an investigation by the Dutch police resulted in the discovery of seven soundproof containers south of Rotterdam, six of them used as cells for the mafia’s captives. The seventh, with handcuffs hanging from the ceiling and a chair bolted to the floor, was used as a torture chamber.
The rise in violence is directly related to drug crime, and firearm-related violence is especially linked to cocaine—the most popular product of immigrant gangs. Mobsters also have automatic weapons procured from war zones such as Syria and Libya. But relations between mobsters and jihadists are not confined to the procuring of firearms. According to the Dutch secret service, Iran not only used Moroccan Dutch gangsters to eliminate two of its “enemies of the state” on foreign soil, but is actively protecting crime bosses by providing them with refuge. The Dutch Ministry of Justice even suspected that crime-clan leader Taghi enjoyed protection for a while by the Iranian secret service.
Between 2019 and 2021, three high profile murders shook the Dutch public. All three murders were related to the so-called ‘Marengo process,’ a trial of leading members of the Moroccan mafia. First, crown witness Nabil B.’s brother was murdered. Then his attorney, Derk Wiersum, in September 2019. Finally, crime reporter Peter R. de Vries on the 6th of July 2021, in downtown Amsterdam, with his murder being recorded on camera by the mafia.
“Is the Netherlands becoming a narco-state?” asked the BBC’s Hague reporter Anna Holligan at the end of 2019. The Dutch population seems to have made up its mind. According to the article, 59% of Dutch people believe that the Netherlands is a narco-state, that is: a state whose economy depends on the illegal drug trade. And this was before some of the most horrible developments, described above.
The real question is not whether the Dutch people were right in their assessment three years ago, but how the Dutch government could ignore the problem for so long, given that the gravity of the situation is no secret? The dreadful condition of the Dutch state affects not only the Netherlands but also the rest of Europe, where the immigrant drug clans spread their tentacles far and wide. Today, most drug-related cases in Belgium and Spain are connected to the Dutch immigrant mafia. The Dutch liberal dream is quickly turning into a drug-infused nightmare.