Belgium strengthens fight against illegal drugs with new forensic lab

(23 Apr 2024)

Brussels – 23 April 2024

1. Various of technicians opening plastic wrapped package filled with cocaine
2. Technician taking picture of cocaine
3. Technician putting cocaine in plastic bag and placing it on a precision scale
4. Technician bringing the cocaine in for analysis
5. Various of cocaine being crushed in a bowl
6. Close of technician taking a sample of cocaine and placing it on a device
7. Mid of technician and computer screen showing result of analysis and confirming the powder is cocaine
8. SOUNDBITE (French) Paul Van Tigchelt, Belgian Justice Minister:
"We notice that there are more and more synthetic drugs on the market that are stronger and stronger, and so more dangerous. These synthetic drugs are often produced here in Belgium or in the Netherlands. We must fight against this phenomenon and with this expertise centre we can help the justice and the police to pursue these criminal networks."
9. Close of cocaine bags
10. SOUNDBITE (French) Paul Van Tigchelt, Belgian Justice Minister:
"We notice that there is a lot of violence, we have the Moccro Mafia in Antwerp, the Albanese mafia in Brussels, the ‘Ndrangheta Italian mafia in the Limbourg province, these networks are concurrents, and we now have the Marseille mafia starting to arrive in Brussels, so there is a fierce fight against all this, these criminals are making a lot of money and we do not accept that, there will be no impunity."
11. Technician using analysis device
12. Close of device
13. SOUNDBITE (French) Ine Van Wymersch, Belgian National Commissar against drugs:
"What is important is that thanks to this lab we can identify with precision which illegal substances we are dealing with. And knowing these substances will help us identifying and linking the substance with the criminal networks, where it was made, who was in charge of the production, and what is the money that these organisation made by producing and trafficking these kinds of illegal drugs."
14. Close of bag of cocaine on precision scale
15. SOUNDBITE (French) Ine Van Wymersch, Belgian National Commissar against drugs:
"We will never have a drug free society but everything has to be done in order to not make the situation worse and violence continue. We must break the business models of these criminal organisations because this is a real business, and this goal is achievable."
16. Various of table showing different drugs seized in Belgium
Belgium opened a new forensic lab for drugs in Brussels on Tuesday as cocaine and crack keep flowing from the port of Antwerp to the streets of Brussels.

Shootings among rival gangs rage close to the very heart of Brussels. Police seize drugs and arrest traffickers almost daily. But dealers keep coming back, and locals aren’t happy.

As record amounts of cocaine are being seized in Europe, drug-related violent crime is becoming increasingly visible in the European Union’s capital city.

With the new lab, police and prosecutors are hoping to identify a variety of drugs and their production techniques better. This is in an effort to dismantle international networks operating in Belgium.

With Antwerp serving as the main gateway for Latin American cocaine cartels into the European continent, gang violence has been rife in the Belgian port city for years. With drug use on the rise across the whole country, federal authorities say trafficking is rapidly penetrating society.


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