Newsbrief: Dutch Do De Facto Decriminalization for Small-Time Cocaine Smugglers 2/6/04

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The Dutch government has quietly quit prosecuting people it catches smuggling cocaine into Amsterdam's Schipol Airport, the Times of London reported Wednesday. Last year, Dutch customs officers arrested 2,176 smugglers flying in on "cocaine flights" from the Caribbean, an average of more than five every day. Now it says that prosecuting them is a waste of resources.

"Locking up thousands of smugglers doesn't solve the problem. There will always be more of them," Dutch justice ministry spokesman Ivo Hommes told the venerable newspaper. "We've been honest enough to admit that we only manage to stop 15% of the drugs coming in, so we are trying something new."

While Hommes characterized the move as innovative policy, a justice ministry memorandum obtained by the Times suggested the Dutch made the move because prosecutors were overburdened by the ceaseless flow of Caribbean mules. Arresting them should not be permitted to "block the justice system," the memo said.

The policy may soon be extended to other hard drugs, Hommes said.

There those Dutch go again. First the coffee shops, now this. So damnably pragmatic.

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