EU launches alliance to tackle drug trafficking through European ports

The EU launched a new initiative on Wednesday to crack down on drugs being trafficked through European ports.

The European Ports Alliance aims to enhance cooperation and intelligence gathering between police, customs officials and private sea terminal operators.

It was launched in Antwerp by the European Commission in cooperation with the Belgian Presidency. The EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, said criminal groups who have been working together, had to be tackled.

The gangs put “big shipments together on one side of the Atlantic and redistribute them on the other side here in Europe,” she explained.

“We are teaming up to stop the criminal groups infiltrating our ports with bribery and corruption and threats because it’s very difficult for people to get into the harbour and to get the drugs out of the container ports. For that, they need inside help.”

2023 saw a huge increase in drug seizures in several European countries, with gangs exploiting internal security weaknesses in ports.

The new alliance aims to build on anti-trafficking measures already taken at some ports, such as the Northern seaports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg, and establish similar operations across Europe. 

The central aim of the project is to strengthen the resilience of Europe’s logistics hubs against the threats posed by organised crime.

Based on a better understanding of existing gaps and vulnerabilities, the alliance aims to mobilise the customs community to enhance risk assessments and targeted controls.

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