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03THEHAGUE2527 2003-10-03 05:59:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

DUTCH JUSTICE MINISTER PLANS TO TARGET

Tags:   SNAR PTER KCRM PREL NL 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 THE HAGUE 002527 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

ONDCP FOR DIRECTOR WALTERS, AGRESTI
DEPT FOR G - U/S DOBRIANSKY, INL - ACTING A/S
SIMONS, EUR - A/S JONES, EUR/ERA, EUR/UBI,
DOJ FOR OIA, AFMLS, NDDS
BRUSSELS FOR NAS, DOJ, AND FBI
DEA HQS FOR ADMINISTRATOR TANDY AND OFE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR PTER KCRM PREL NL
SUBJECT: DUTCH JUSTICE MINISTER PLANS TO TARGET
COCAINE SMUGGLERS AT SCHIPHOL AIRPORT




1. (SBU) Action request: Please see Paragraph 7.



2. (SBU) Summary: Ambassador Sobel met with the Dutch
Justice Minister Donner October 1 to discuss the
Ministry of Justice's proposed Action Plan aimed at
disrupting the cocaine traffic transiting Schiphol
airport from the Caribbean. Currently, GONL
estimates that 20-40,000 kilos of cocaine comes
through Schiphol annually, mainly from the
Netherlands Antilles, but also from Suriname and
Venezuela. Only 20-25% is currently being
interdicted. One aim of the plan is to triple the
interdiction rate, thereby reaching a "tipping point"
at which the cocaine suppliers will decide that it is
not cost effective to use Schiphol anymore. A second
aim is to gain leverage over the government of the
Netherlands Antilles (GONA) by putting at risk their
tourist industry. Targeted airplanes would have to
go to sealed gates and all passengers would go
through lengthy, time consuming and intrusive
procedures. GONL hopes that the threat of this would
force Netherlands-Antilles government to deal with
the problem at source. The downside to the plan is
that the resulting arrests would strain the Dutch
penal system to breaking point. The Ministry of
Justice (MOJ) plans, therefore, to prosecute only
smugglers caught with large amounts of cocaine
(newspaper accounts suggest 2 kilos or more). All
others will be arrested, immediately deported and put
on an airline blacklist. Ambassador Sobel voiced
strong concern that the plan "virtually
decriminalizes" smaller amounts and places the
problem back in the lap of the Netherlands Antilles -
which has similar resource/cell limits. This would be
particularly harmful to the Netherlands reputation
given that the Netherlands is also a significant
source country of Ecstasy. Donner took his point,
but claimed that they face a choice between imperfect
solutions - turnaround or turn a blind eye. The
judicial and prison capacities have reached their
limits. Embassy requests guidance from INL, ONDCP,
and DEA. (Please see para. 7)

END SUMMARY



3. (SBU) In a meeting with Justice Minister Donner,
Ambassador Sobel discussed Dutch plans to disrupt the
transshipment of cocaine coming through Schiphol
Airport. The action plan, which is still being
formulated, aims to triple the interdiction rate and
thereby reach a "tipping point" at which suppliers
see continued use of Schiphol as unprofitable and
look for alternative supply lines. Currently, 20-
40,000 kilos of cocaine are transshipped through
Schiphol each year. Approximately 10% is for use in
the Netherlands with the rest going to other
countries in Europe (principally Germany, Spain and
the UK). The vast majority of the cocaine comes to
Schiphol on 29 "direct risk" flights each week,
mainly from the Netherlands Antilles, but also from
Caracas, Paramaribo and Aruba. The drugs are either
ingested by "bollita swallowers" or smuggled in on
cargo or in luggage. The Dutch have indicated that
the crackdown would be temporary and that they would
review its effectiveness in the short term.



4. (SBU) Under a September 2002 plan to fight this
problem (through increased police monitoring,
construction of more prison facilities and a prison
at Schiphol airport), the arrests for smuggling
increased from 1300 in 2001, to 2200 arrests in 2002.
MOJ D/DG Jan van den Hoevel, who is directing the
action plan told the Ambassador that current arrests
are about 200 per month. The new plan to triple
interdiction rates through increased manpower,
greater use of intelligence, and other methods such
as the creation of a database to track returnees,
would lead to a unsustainable burden on the Dutch
justice and penal system Donner said. Accordingly,
the plan will allow Dutch authorities to focus on
larger smugglers and return those smuggling smaller
amounts to their place of origin. By arresting and
taking to court only those who carry "larger amounts"
(newspaper accounts suggest 2 kilos or more) Donner
hopes to deal a blow to the supply of cocaine while
not overburdening the Dutch legal system. Those with
smaller amounts would be arrested but then deported.



5. (SBU) Ambassador Sobel strongly voiced his concern
that failing to deal with those who smuggled smaller
amounts sent the wrong signal and was not a long-term
solution to this problem. Minister Donner noted the
Ambassador's concern. Donner further explained that
it is difficult for the Netherlands to get agreement
with the Netherlands Antilles as it is "part of
Kingdom, but cannot be ordered around." He said that
he might want to discuss ways in which the USG could
put pressure on The Antilles. Ambassador Sobel
responded that the US recognizes that there are
complex political issues and we want to be careful
not to get caught in between the two sides. The U.S.
is very active in counternarcotics in the Caribbean
and wants to be as helpful as possible. Ambassador
Sobel noted that the upcoming visit of Coast Guard
Command Collins to the Netherlands offers an
opportunity to discuss some practical measures.
Donner agreed that that was a good idea and said that
an appropriate MOJ official would be glad to meet
with him.



6. (SBU) In a general discussion on drugs policy,
Ambassador Sobel raised the possibility of having DEA
Administrator Tandy or ONDCP Director Walters visit
the Netherlands to share information and views on the
drug trafficking. Ambassador Sobel noted that the
reputation of the Netherlands internationally with
regard to drugs was not good and that they should
make efforts to improve this. Ambassador Sobel said
that one reason that the Netherlands was attractive
to drug smugglers and producers was the low
sentencing and permissive attitude towards drugs in
this country. Donner claimed that the actual time
served for drug crimes in the Netherlands was about
the same as the rest of Europe. Donner also
acknowledged that it was worth looking at this
initiative in a broader context in which the drug
problem as whole could be attacked. Ambassador Sobel
stressed that this is an opportunity for the Dutch to
put additional resources into fighting synthetic
drugs.



7. (SBU) Action request/Comment: Embassy's judgment
is that a temporary crackdown at Schiphol is at best
a stopgap measure that will not make a significant
long-term difference to the problem of narcotics
smuggling to the Netherlands. At the same time, we
judge that there is no political will or resources in
the near future for creating the judicial and penal
capacity needed to handle the flood of drug couriers.
We think that GONL however might be open to the
argument that they need to combine this crackdown
with other measures that would make a difference in
stemming the traffic. For example, we might argue
that the Netherlands should implement in parallel a
temporary program for the use of criminal infiltrants
and "pass-throughs" that would enable them to go
beyond interrupting couriers and begin arresting the
gang leaders. These measures would have the added
value of being useful practices that can be applied
to the other Dutch drug problem - the production of
Ecstasy. Past experience however suggests that
expectations must not be raised too high. Post seeks
INL, ONDCP and DEA input on other practical measures
that we could recommend that the Dutch employ on a
trial basis in parallel with this crackdown.


Sobel