HomeNewsBriefDutch Ship Makes Waves with Record Cocaine Seizures in Caribbean
BRIEF

Dutch Ship Makes Waves with Record Cocaine Seizures in Caribbean

CARIBBEAN / 5 OCT 2020 BY ALESSANDRO FORD EN

A patrol ship in the Dutch Caribbean has caught over three tons of cocaine in a rapid series of seizures, displaying how regularly drug shipments traverse the area on their way to Europe and the United States.

On September 8, the Dutch navy ship Zr.Ms. Groningen intercepted a speedboat to the west of Aruba carrying half a ton of cocaine, according to the Dutch Ministry of Defence. Within a month, four more seizures had followed: on September 11 (when another half ton of cocaine was interdicted from a speedboat), on September 22 (80 kilograms), on September 26 (284 kilograms) and on September 28, when a record 1.9 tons of cocaine were captured off a single vessel.

While this represents a significant boost for Dutch counter-narcotic operations, particularly since the latest seizure surpasses the Groningen’s previous seizure record of 1.7 tons of cocaine in May 2019 and constitutes the most maritime seizures in one month since records began in 1974, the combined volume of seized cocaine is not atypical. 2019 was a record-year for Dutch Caribbean drug seizures that saw over 10 tons of cocaine captured (just under 6 tons between January and August and 3.2 tons from October to December).

SEE ALSO: Tugboat Off Aruba Coast Hides More Than Just Cocaine

It was the largest seizure year since 2013 (when almost 10 tons of cocaine were interdicted) and second-largest since 2003. As the “absolute number 1 in the Dutch Navy” at combating drug trafficking, according to Dutch naval news website Marine Schepen, the Groningen played a major part in 2019’s record seizures.

These latest seizures bring the ship’s number of total interdictions to 17, nearly all of which have occurred since April 2019, when the Groningen began its two-year Caribbean deployment as part of the experimental “Ocean-Going Patrol Vessel Exchange Crew” program.

The Groningen’s deployment is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands' main strategy to stem the flow of drugs through the region, according to a regional expert who spoke to InSight Crime.

A recent report from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs also highlighted the role US surveillance flights from Curaçao and Aruba have had in supporting the Dutch Navy's counter-narcotics efforts, helping interdict an alleged 308 tons of cocaine and 26 tons of cannabis in the broader region between October 2018 and September 2019.

InSight Crime Analysis

In recent years, the Dutch Caribbean has been a consistently attractive transit region for drug traffickers, due to the combination of skyrocketing Colombian supply and the increased use of Venezuela as a dispatch point - particularly its Caribbean islands such as Los Roques and Isla Margarita.

While seizure numbers are an imprecise metric for measuring the scale of trafficking and heightened interdiction efforts certainly contribute to increased seizures, it seems likely the total volume of cocaine moving through the area has spiked.

SEE ALSO: Dominican Republic and Venezuela: Cocaine Across the Caribbean

A major reason is that since the collapse of Venezuela’s shipping industry and the dramatic reduction in air travel, especially during the pandemic, drug traffickers in the country have increasingly relied on “go-fast” speedboats to transport illicit goods to Caribbean islands with more air and maritime traffic, such as the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

From there, the drugs either move to the next link in the supply chain or travel directly to their final destinations, according to the aforementioned regional expert. Cultural and historical ties facilitate trafficking from Puerto Rico to the US, from the Dominican Republic to Spain and from the Dutch-owned islands to the Netherlands.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EX-FARC MAFIA / 13 OCT 2021

The Colombian guerrillas have won a battle against the Venezuelan military in the state of Apure. But they will never…

COCA / 1 SEP 2021

Deforestation is the most visible face of environmental crime in Colombia’s Amazon.

ELITES AND CRIME / 17 NOV 2021

On November 5, 2019, threatening pamphlets appeared on the streets of El Callao, a mining town in Venezuela's eastern state…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…