Home » ‘War on drugs’ consumes a quarter of the federal police’s investigative capacity

‘War on drugs’ consumes a quarter of the federal police’s investigative capacity

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© BELGIUM

Police

In 2023, the federal police will devote a quarter of its investigative capacity to the ‘war on drugs’. A total of 213,670,000 euros in criminal money was seized. This is evident from the annual report of the federal police.

The ‘war on drugs’ and especially the cracking of Sky ECC – the underworld’s messaging system – in 2021 has led to a small revolution in the use of federal police resources in 2023. It has been said and written many times, but it is now also evident from the annual report for 2023 that interim Director General of the Federal Police Eric Snoeck presented this morning.

These figures show that the federal police launched 4,087 new investigations into organized crime last year. The vast majority were investigations into drug gangs. No less than 24.6 percent of the federal police’s investigative capacity was deployed on drug crime in 2023. The remainder was divided between investigations into violent crimes such as murder and robberies, but also human smuggling and trafficking, terrorism and economic and financial crime. Also notable: in 2023, police discovered 135 hidden spaces in vehicles containing a total of 2.3 tons of cocaine. Parliament passed a law last month that makes such hidden spaces illegal.

Urgently wanted: IT professionals

The annual report was presented this morning in the presence of the Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) and the Minister of Justice Paul Van Tigchelt (Open VLD). “In 2023, the courts sentenced 4,707 years in prison following investigations by the federal police,” Van Tigchelt said. “45 percent of that, 2,130 years, involved prison sentences handed down after drug investigations. Many of those files started in 2021 after the cracking of Sky ECC. We are also increasingly hitting criminal organizations where it really hurts. In 2023, 213,670,000 euros of criminal money was seized. Thanks to the work of the Federal Judicial Police, we are increasingly successful in breaking the back of organized crime.”

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The annual report was presented in the presence of the Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V), police director Eric Snoeck and the Minister of Justice Paul Van Tigchelt. — © BELGA

“In 2023, the courts sentenced 4,707 years in prison. 45 percent of these, 2,130 years, were prison sentences handed down after drug investigations.”

Paul Van Tigchelt

Minister of justice

Minister Verlinden emphasized the efforts that the federal police continues to make to attract the right people. A total of 13,909 people work for the federal police today. But it remains difficult to attract some specific profiles, for example young people with a degree in IT. There has been a great need for more staff to fight cybercrime for years, but IT professionals can still earn much more in their private lives.

Another remarkable fact: for the terrorism trial on the March 22 attacks, which lasted eight months, the federal police mobilized 105 people per hearing day in 2023, for the transfer of the accused between prison and courtroom and also for guarding the courthouse. Today, a major trial involving more than 130 defendants is underway in the same courthouse in Evere. That process also consumes a lot of capacity.

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