#246 USA Today Gives Hutchinson Free Ride In Netherlands

Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2002
Subject: #246 USA Today Gives Hutchinson Free Ride In Netherlands

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 246 July 16, 2002

USA Today Gives Hutchinson Free Ride In Netherlands

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DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 246 July 16, 2002

DEA head Asa Hutchinson recently traveled to the Netherlands. USA
Today reported on the trip this week. The article not only lets
Hutchinson make absurd criticisms about the Dutch system without any
challenge, the reporter ignores a number of inconvenient facts, such
as lower drug use rates in the Netherlands.

The article states:

“U.S. law enforcement officials want the Dutch to become less
hospitable to Ecstasy’s manufacturers and smugglers, but they have
little power to make that happen. The Netherlands is a wealthy ally
that cannot be pushed into tougher drug enforcement with the promise
of U.S. aid or the threat of sanctions.”

Surely the reporter knows that pushing countries into “tougher drug
enforcement” does not make a country “less hospitable” to drug
manufacturers – in Colombia such tactics have dramatically increased
drug production.

Please write a letter to USA Today asking why the newspaper is only
telling half the story on the Netherlands.

Thanks for your effort and support.


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Source: USA Today (US)
Contact: editor@usatoday.com



U.S. urges Dutch to toughen drug policy

Webpage: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washdc/2002/07/15/usat-dutch-drugs.htm
Pubdate: July 15, 2002
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2002 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Contact: editor@usatoday.com
Website: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nfront.htm
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/466
Author: Donna Leinwand, USA Today

U.S. urges Dutch to toughen drug policy

AMSTERDAM The United States’ anti-drug chief and a Dutch police
commander were touring Amsterdam’s red-light district recently when a
man approached the U.S. law enforcement delegation. “Ecstasy? Viagra?
Cocaina?” he whispered to a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman.
The Dutch cop shrugged. DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson grimaced.
Drug dealers are bold here. Drugs, especially the club drug Ecstasy,
are cheap and plentiful. Dutch police mostly look the other way,
preferring to focus on property crimes and public nuisances.

It’s added up to a 100 million-pill-a-year problem for the USA, where
authorities have become increasingly frustrated at how the
Netherlands’ laissez faire approach to drug enforcement has allowed
Ecstasy labs to flourish here.

The Netherlands has become the dominant supplier of the synthetic
hallucinogenic drug that has exploded in popularity among U.S. teens
and young adults. U.S. officials say about 80% of the 2 million
Ecstasy pills flowing into the USA each week are manufactured on Dutch
soil. U.S. Customs officers stationed in New York City-area airports,
the most popular Ecstasy smuggling hubs, say they can make a bust
every other day just by targeting passengers from flights that have
passed through the Netherlands.

The percentage of teens in the USA who use Ecstasy has more than
doubled since 1995, a survey last year by the Partnership for a
Drug-Free America showed. In a nationwide survey of 6,937 youths ages
12-18, 12% said they had used Ecstasy, up from 5% in 1995. It ranks
behind only alcohol and marijuana in teen popularity.

U.S. law enforcement officials want the Dutch to become less
hospitable to Ecstasy’s manufacturers and smugglers, but they have
little power to make that happen. The Netherlands is a wealthy ally
that cannot be pushed into tougher drug enforcement with the promise
of U.S. aid or the threat of sanctions. Instead, U.S. officials are
trying to politely persuade the Dutch to see it their way.

Hutchinson, who visited the Netherlands for two days in June, hopes a
more conservative Dutch parliament elected May 15 and increasing
pressure from less permissive members of the European Union will
prompt the Dutch to pursue dealers and manufacturers more

The Dutch have made significant busts since creating a synthetic-drug
law enforcement division in 1997. In 2000, Dutch authorities
dismantled 23 Ecstasy labs, the U.S. State Department says. Dutch
officials say they intend to close more Ecstasy labs with five new
anti-drug squads. The Dutch parliament recently approved a five-year,
$35 million program aimed at reducing the Ecstasy supply, and the
Dutch justice minister has suggested a registration system for
pillmaking machines.

U.S. officials appreciate the moves. But they say the Netherlands’
underlying tolerance of drugs undermines the crackdowns. Penalties for
dealing and manufacturing drugs are not stiff enough to discourage it,
they say.

“They have a permissive drug policy that has a natural way of
attracting those who want to engage in illegal behavior, and they have
a weak law enforcement structure,” Hutchinson says.

Ecstasy is illegal in the Netherlands. The Dutch, however, regard drug
use primarily as a health issue rather than as a crime problem, so
they focus their efforts on preventing drug use rather than law
enforcement. Licensed shops in the Netherlands sell marijuana for
individual use, and the government provides free needles and clean
rooms where heroin addicts can shoot up. Addicts who become a nuisance
are steered toward treatment. The large-scale dealers and
manufacturers who are prosecuted rarely spend more than a year or two
in prison.

Dutch officials, when challenged on their priorities, refer to an
insatiable U.S. demand for drugs. “What we are doing is fighting some
basic rules of an economic market,” says Steven van Hoogstraten,
former director of drugs policy at the Dutch Justice Ministry.
Manufacturers want to smuggle drugs to the market willing to pay the
highest price, he says, alluding to the USA’s black market.

An Ecstasy pill typically sells for about 50 cents wholesale and $7
retail in the Netherlands; it brings about $15 in the typical U.S.
nightclub. Drug prices in the Netherlands are the lowest in Western
Europe, the United Nations Office for Drug Control Policy says.

The Dutch police report that 40% of the Ecstasy they seized in 1999,
about 1.5 million of 3.7 million tablets, was destined for the USA.
Police data indicate that 8.1 million Ecstasy tablets seized worldwide
in 2000 could be traced to the Netherlands, a State Department report

Manufacturers in the Netherlands usually buy used pill presses from
Asia, particularly India and Thailand. They import the chemicals from
China, the largest producer of chemicals used to make Ecstasy. The
Chinese say they produce the chemicals for making perfume, Dutch
officials say.

“There is no legitimate use for the chemical” in the Netherlands, says
David Borah, the DEA attache based in The Hague. “So we know it’s
being used to make Ecstasy.”

Many smugglers who bring chemicals into the Netherlands find cover at
Rotterdam’s port, the world’s busiest. About 40% of the 6.5 million
containers that pass through the port each year contain chemicals.
Loose European borders mean that smugglers can bring the chemicals and
pill presses from Eastern Europe in tractor-trailers with little risk
of inspection.

Dutch customs officials X-ray 25,000 to 30,000 containers a year, less
than 1% of the 6.5 million containers that pass through Rotterdam each
year. They say they usually need advance intelligence and luck to find
Ecstasy pills in containers the size of railroad cars.

“Try to find a bag of 10,000 pills in a 40-foot container of
tomatoes,” says Kees Visscher of Dutch customs.


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To the Editors of USA TODAY:

DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson should be seeking advice on drug
policy from the Dutch, not giving it. (“U. S. Urges Dutch to Toughen
Drug Policy” 7-15-02). The Dutch rate of recreational drug use and
abuse is substantially lower than U. S. rates. See:

If we stop drugs like ecstasy from coming from the Netherlands the
drugs will come from somewhere else. As long as Americans want drugs
and we are willing to pay a substantial price for the drugs, someone
will produce them and someone will get the drugs to the willing
buyers. Guaranteed.

Best regards, Kirk Muse

IMPORTANT: Always remember to include your address and phone

NOTE: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at
least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of
the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for
his/her work.



With a U.S. circulation of over 2.3 million, the readership
demographics are: Total Adult Readers 4.3 million. Male/Female 66/34%.
Median Age 41 years. Attended College 80%. Median HH Income $71, 661.

The average published letter would cost over $5,000 if purchased as an

The MAP published letter archive has 53 letters from USA Today. A
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words. The average published is 169 words, and the largest about 300

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