Dutch minors recruited for drug violence in Antwerp, adding pressure on detention centers

Drug barons from Dubai and Turkey are recruiting Dutch minors to carry out attacks in Antwerp and steal drugs from containers. The young offenders who are arrested sometimes end up in Flemish detention centres, which are struggling with a lack of space, Mediahuis newspapers reported on Thursday.

The involvement of Dutch people in drugs and violence in Antwerp is nothing new. In recent years, however, there has been a "sharp increase in the number of Dutch minors", according to federal Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne and Flemish Justice minister Zuhal Demir. Last year, 41 Dutch youths were placed in Flemish institutions, five of whom had to stay for more than three months before they were allowed to return to the Netherlands. This puts even more pressure on the already overburdened institutions.

"Young people of 15, 16 years old are recruited on the streets. At best they get 1,000 euros to be used as cannon fodder in Belgium"

The minors were recruited to carry out raids in the drug scene in Antwerp and Mechelen and to steal drugs from containers in the port, the Antwerp public prosecutor's office confirmed. ​ Minister Van Quickenborne speaks of a "worrying phenomenon". "Young people of 15, 16 years old are recruited on the streets for an apple and an egg. At best they get 1,000 euros to be used as cannon fodder in Belgium".

The Antwerp region has been experiencing a wave of violent attacks linked to drug crime for some time. In 2022, it recorded 75 acts of violence. Since the upsurge of drug-related violence in Antwerp, 61 suspects have been arrested, 48 of whom have Dutch nationality.



#FlandersNewsService | The scene of an explosion near Franklin Rooseveltplaats, Antwerp, April 2023 © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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