Travel

ANTWERP: BELGIUM’S HUB FOR DRUG CRIME

Antwerp has taken over from London as Europe’s ‘cocaine capital’, according to the water anyway. Analysis shows there is more coke in the water than Landan.

What’s more is that they actually seem to really rate cocaine, despite it generally being a lacklustre mix of floor cleaner and speed. According to the Global Drugs Survey that gave it a 5.5 out of 10. High praise indeed.

A sunset view of the harbour of Antwerp in Belgium.
A sunset view of the harbour of Antwerp in Belgium.

Although you wouldn’t watch a movie with that rating would you? The Aussies gave it 2.2 in comparison, clearly it loses something on the journey. Amsterdam was second, Zurich third and London a measly fourth.

Chemically these studies are interesting because cocaine is converted to benzoylecgonine after it has been metabolised by the human body. It’s popularity in Antwerp is attributed to emerging middle-classes and moneyed weekenders-on-a-bender.

A container terminal with tall cranes in Antwerp, Belgium.
A container terminal with tall cranes in Antwerp, Belgium.

There is the issue of how it got there in the first place, as around 25% of South America’s product is passing through. Antwerp’s mayor declared his own small scale ‘war on drugs’ by increasing police numbers from 15 to 45. George Bush Jr would be proud.

Basically, barely anything gets screened from all the shipping containers that pass through. Just in case checks did occur, a cartel hacked the computer systems controlling movement of said containers to get rid of them before they got to the search point. One predictable way that technology can be hijacked for organised crime.

Racing pigeon
Blue-check homing pigeon, also known as a racing pigeon or racing homer…

This is not the only drug ‘scandal’ to rock Belgium, oh no. Tests found that six Belgian racing pigeons had been given cocaine and painkillers in order to enhance their performance. This was discovered when they were in Southern Africa so who knows what happened?

Apparently the world of pigeon racing is increasingly glamourous and because of this it is more of a target for organised crime. Even China are getting involved with this torment of animals for money.

In 2013 a Belgian racing pigeon named after Usain Bolt was sold for €310,000 to a Chinese businessman. Certainly an amount of money worth getting in a flap about.

Despite the drug-dealing Antwerp is certainly on the up, it has money and isn’t afraid to party. Belgium is increasingly on the map and has so many lovely cities that its definitely worth venturing beyond Brussels.

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