Published On: Wed, Aug 10th, 2016

Less drugs, more couriers at Hato Airport

drug mulesWILLEMSTAD – “Before, drug traffickers took more cocaine on the way to Europe, now there are more couriers with less cocaine. Drug gangs spread their risks in order not to lose everything at once.”

This is according to Kenneth Hellement, head of the Customs team at Hato airport.

In 2015, 90 couriers were arrested with 133 kilos of drugs. In the first six months of this year the same number of couriers were arrested, but with 57 kilos in their possession.

Two-way road

“The drug trafficking has become a two-way road: cocaine and heroin to the Netherlands and Germany, hash and ecstasy from there to Curaçao,” says Hellement. With twelve officers the Hato team inspects incoming and outgoing passengers and suitcases.

According to the customs, this is now possible because since December the body scan is operational again. The team has access to six dogs that can smell different drugs and large sums of cash.

Young couriers

“We detect drug smugglers easier now,” says Hellement. This is based on profiling. “Drug traffickers can be found in all strata of society. Especially young people, between 17 and 30 years. “I regret, youth are still the future.”

Interviews with customs officers suggest that profiling is mainly based on behavior. “We get criticized by black people that we pick on them because of the color of their skin, but from white people, we hear the same.”

According to Norman Serphos, spokesman for the Public Prosecution, there was a change in tackling drug traffickers after Germany rang the bell. “They didn’t know in 2011 what was going on when Airberlin began in Curaçao. In Germany they had never seen such a large influx of drugs from the outside. At its peak, a quarter of the cells in Dusseldorf were filled with couriers from Curaçao.”

By Dick Drayer (Persbureau)

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