The Underwater War on Drugs: An overview of the Dutch Customs Diving Team

The Underwater War on Drugs: An overview of the Dutch Customs Diving Team

August 4, 2020

Authors: Ajatshatru Bhattacharya and Benjamin Peters


Published: August 4, 2020

Pages: 31

Publisher: Invictus Corporation Ltd.


Drug Trafficking Organisations (DTOs) employ a wide variety of modus operandi in an attempt to bring illicit drugs into the European markets. From using banana shipments and sriracha containers to bolting hollow torpedoes filled with drugs to the underside of the commercial vessels. In the first quarter of 2019, the main ports within the 27 European Member States (MS) handled 915 million tonnes of seaborne goods. The Port of Rotterdam (PoR) remains the largest European Union (EU) port, with approximately 107 million tonnes of goods handled in the third quarter of 2019. Considering this high volume of trade, various countries are adopting newer policies and deploying specialised units to address the growing drug trafficking problem. This report focuses on the efforts of the unique Dutch Customs Diving Team (Douane Duikteam, hereinafter ‘DCDT’) in the Dutch Government’s underwater war on drugs.

This report has three core aims: first, to collate and consolidate information available about the DCDT’s operational framework and their efforts in curbing illicit drug trafficking. Second, this report highlights why units like DCDT are necessary in the context of emerging underwater drug trafficking methods. Finally, this report aims to assist interested stakeholders in building on the Dutch framework to address underwater drug smuggling. 


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