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Drug smuggler nationNarcotics and the Netherlands, 1920-1995$
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Stephen Snelders

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781526151391

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526151407

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

Cannabis, counterculture, and criminals: The rise of cannabis smuggling

Cannabis, counterculture, and criminals: The rise of cannabis smuggling

(p.74) 4 Cannabis, counterculture, and criminals: The rise of cannabis smuggling
Drug smuggler nation

Stephen Snelders

Manchester University Press

In its first phase after the Second World war illegal cannabis smuggling in the Netherlands occurred on a very small scale. It was partly based on the time-honoured tradition of small-scale smuggling by sailors, and partly on the needs and drives of a new generation of countercultural activists. However, by 1971 the illegal cannabis market had become an increasingly interesting and profitable business for more commercially minded smugglers so interesting that criminal entrepreneurs moved in. An underground or shadow economy came into existence that undermined the power of the state. Pakistani entrepreneurs used planes to smuggle larger cargoes to Europe. Dutch criminal entrepreneurs, embedded in the working-class-neigbourhoods and harbour districts of the big cities, used their skills, their funds, and their contacts with transporters (e.g., fishermen) in the Netherlands’ maritime trading culture to smuggle cannabis on a scale not before witnessed. What the police saw as the ‘primitive’ and flexible organization model of these entrepreneurs proved to be quite successful when transferred to the illegal drug trade. Dutch smuggling entrepreneurs and networks connected quite easily with counterparts in cultivation areas such as the Moroccan Rif Mountains and the Lebanese Bekaa Valley. Here, in response to Western demand, cannabis cultivation and trade became a profitable economic sector more or less protected by political authorities and basically left alone by the state. Containerization of the world’s shipping offered further possibilities for smuggling drugs in bulk.

Keywords:   cannabis, counterculture, Lebanon, Morocco, Afghanistan, hippie trail, sailors, maritime transport, fishermen, containerization

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