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nine people arrested

Large heroin lab discovered at pepper and cucumbers growers

Den Haag, Bleiswijk, Bergschenhoek, Berkel en Rodenrijs, Rotterdam, Pijnacker, Maasdijk - There were four wheelers in the garage for maintenance and there were cucumbers growing in the greenhouse complex. In reality it was a cover for drug labs.

Four brothers from the Hague (55, 52, 45 and 41), an ex-girlfriend (48) and one of their sons (26 year old from Rotterdam), were arrested on Friday October 6 together with two other suspects on Saturday on suspicion of dealing and producing drugs within a criminal organisation and money laundering. A ninth suspect was arrested later.

Heroin production
In 2017 the breeding company, which was in the ex-girlfriend's name and was actually lead by the 45 year old brother, had large amounts of acetic anhydride delivered, which drew the attention of the police. They had already attracted police interest as the investigating team from both at home and abroad had already received information about the brothers. Acetic anhydride is usually used in tanneries, for degreasing and for the production of aspirin and sustainable pinewood. It is never used in plant cultivation and can be deadly if inhaled. It is also a substance known to criminals to turn morphine into heroin. With the amount of acetic anhydride supplied in 2017 the suspects were able to produce over 1500 kilo of heroin. 

In August the police team caught wind of possible heroin production in one of the nurseries in the company in Bergschenhoek. The team decided to visit the nursery on 17 August. There was clear signs of heroin production, the Landelijke Faciliteit Ontmantelen (LFO) police decided. These findings were the basis for the arrest of the family members and their accomplices, a 43 year old from the Hague (brother-in-law to the brothers) and a 53 year old from Rotterdam. The accomplices are suspected of being involved in the production of heroin.

Drug lab in a garage
Besides searches in the nurseries a garage in Bleiswijk was also searched. Here police found an entire drug lab. In a nursery in Berkel and Rodenrijs there were five vats of acetic anhydride, as well as cucumbers and peppers as far as the eye can see. Enough to produce over one hundred kilos of heroin, valued at around two million euro.

The mayor of the municipality of Lansingerland quickly closed the garage and administrative steps will be taken against the nursery if there is sufficient legal ground. The nursery visited by police in Bergschenhoek in August is now empty. They are currently looking into what grounds they can proceed on. In two other nurseries, in Maasdijk and Pijnacker, nothing was found. Administration was confiscated here. A cannabis nursery of 3,000 plants was already found in the nursery in Maasdijk in April.

SZW inspection fines
During the action the Inspectie Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid (SZW) checked with ten inspectors whether honest work was being done in the greenhouses. The Inspection is a proponent of checks along with other observers. It became clear during the action that a number of employees were likely being underpaid and overworked. The employer was fined for this.

Hague cafe urgently closed
A cafe in the Hague was also searched as this was where the suspects met. The police found various so-called pony packs with cocaine here. The mayor of the Hague quickly closed the cafe.

Firearms and 50,000 cash
During the search in the home of one of the suspects in the Hague a large amount of MDMA was found. The municipality is considering taking administrative action, such as closing. In other homes a firearm and 50,000 Euro in cash was found, as well as expensive jewellery and clothing. Around 250 police were involved in the arrests and searches on Friday October 6.

There is now a confiscation order of 820,000 Euro against the suspects, as well as a financial investigation into their criminal earnings. The judge commissioner has decided to keep the suspects in custody for at least two weeks.

Money laundering and drug production
The suspects will be held for at least the next two weeks. After this the boardroom of the court will decide whether they should be kept in custody. They are suspected of dealing drugs and producing them, forming a criminal organisation and money laundering.

Criminal activities
It isn't the first time a grower has starting producing drugs. However, it usually concerns cannabis. Just this summer an underground cannabis nursery was found in a greenhouse complex in Etten-Leur. Last week another underground nursery was found on the same plot with 420 weed plants. This year also includes the sentencing of various entrepreneurs that were growing cannabis plants in Roelofarendsveen, Klazienaveen, Bleiswijk and Driel in 2011. The well-known case concerning a Houtense nursery, with cannabis plants between cucumbers ended last year. Two suspects were released due to lack of evidence in this case.

The production of heroin hadn't yet been discovered in Dutch nurseries. According to the police it is unique. In the AD newspaper they said that the Netherlands has only recently started producing heroin. It is also a special case as it is so extensive and the police had to work together with many different branches. 

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