Drugs in The Netherlands: Is Holland becoming a ‘narco-state’?

Is The Netherlands becoming a ‘narco-state’? A police report warns that it is.

‘Narco-state’ is a description used a lot in the Netflix series ‘Narcos’. A show about a drug-infested and cartel-ruled country in Latin America. Of all the words I have ever used to describe The Netherlands, ‘narco-state’ does not even appear on my list. How can it? My biggest safety concern is someone stealing my bike. However, a police report released by the Dutch Police Union (NPB) warns that organised crime and the trafficking of illegal drugs in The Netherlands, is turning the country into one. The 10-page report is called the Noodkreet Recherche (Distress Police Report). It is based on interviews done to members of the Dutch police force and 400 detectives.

Organised crime, sex crimes and a parallel economy of illegal drugs in The Netherlands: What the report says…

The report warns that The Netherlands is slowly resembling the characteristics of a narco-state. It mentions that the Dutch police force is unable to effectively tackle an emerging criminal economy, due to little time, expertise and attention to threats that have gone unattended.

The police report mentions that almost all attention has gone to solving ‘light crimes’, with very little attention given to serious crimes. And this, has had consequences:

“The Netherlands has really become a narco-state in the last 30 years. What we don’t see is not there. And it has substantial growth underground”. Said a detective interviewed in the report.

The Noodkreet Recherche points out that little attention has been given to the serious organised crime leaders that have strived in the country.

‘In the last 25 years, I have seen drug-dealers grow into large entrepreneurs and respected investors with good contacts in politics’. Said another interviewed detective.

Noodkreet Recherche also mentions that crimes against the elderly, sex crimes and cyber scams are on the rise.

drugs in the netherlands
Are police doing enough?

Drugs in The Netherlands: Is The Netherlands really becoming a ‘narco-state’?

It’s really hard to have ‘narco-state’ and The Netherlands in a same sentence. Just saying it feels somehow wrong and inaccurate. However an article form the Volkskrant mentions that far from being visible in plain sight, illegal drugs in The Netherlands are trafficked in online crypto markets. So like the report mentions, it’s really “underground” and away from sight where this happens.

The NPB report also mentions that the police force is in many ways understaffed and under-equipped to handle the magnitude of the problem. The article of the Volkskrant also quotes Pieter Tops, a profesor at the University of Tilburg, who mentions that the very efficient infrastructure in The Netherlands, aid the growth of illegal economies, just as much as they help its legal economy. The advanced ports and digital finance systems the Dutch are famous for, are also used to traffic drugs and move around dirty money.

The Netherlands a narco-state: … But, are you sure you want to call it that?

As someone that lived in a Northern city of Mexico during 2006 – 2012, in the climax of the drug war in Mexico, it feels very weird to read a report that calls The Netherlands a potential narco-state. In a way, I understand why the report does so. If you apply the literal definition of ‘narco-state’ to the things the report points out… Then yes, The Netherlands could be a considered country where large quantities of illegal drugs are trafficked. But man, ‘narco-state‘ like millions of Mexicans understand it? The Netherlands? Yeah, that’s a long-shot… I don’t have enough space in this article to describe what it’s like to live in a narco-state. But I can assure you, The Netherlands is not one yet.

Mexico vs NL

I lived in a narco-ruled city for a long time. I can tell you my experience there was completely different from my time here in The Hague. Lets just say that a country whose police force uses drones and trains eagles to help fight crime is miles away form being a narco-state.

… However, it didn’t start immediately awful in Mexico. The worst of the worst didn’t begin off the bat. It started slowly, and steadily. Hindsight is always 20/20, and it’s crazy for me to look back at the early years of the drug war in Mexico. Especially seeing how cartels started to slowly take over cities and towns. It starts with a little indifference, and then a couple of unattended criminal cases disregarded as ‘1 in a million’. Then the whole thing hits the fan, and you lose control of the whole thing.

tacos drugs
Pretty accurate

I love this amazing orange country and all it has to offer. The last thing I want is for it to become a narco-state. Heck, before reading that report, the idea wasn’t even on my radar. But apparently some good people are concerned about the possibility. So, hopefully things won’t get out of hand, and the next report will show us some good news.

What do you think about this report and the possibility of The Netherlands becoming a nacro-state? Don’t forget to leave your comment below.


Renan Alejandro Salvador Lozano Cuervo
Renan Alejandro Salvador Lozano Cuervo
Pannenkoek en poffertjes connoisseur/expert. Mexican that came for the graduate education, stayed for the stroopwafels and bikes. Ask me how to make the perfect guacamole, and about the hot spots in The Hague.


  1. There isn’t an agreed definition of narco-state, but the most reasonable definitions are one where drug cartels actually control the country or the government runs the drug trade. The Netherlands is nothing like that and is unlikely to ever be. Furthermore the situation in Mexico was hardly about ignoring a few crimes. Those gangs would have grown in power regardless, because there are numerous factors that contributed. Mexico’s drug cartels go back decades.

    Honestly the fact that some police and prosecutors are concerned about it tells us nothing. Neither group is the most reliable when it comes to these things. They certainly have a vested interest in exaggerating the problem. I’d want to see a study done by an unbiased party.


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