A new campaign has been started using a cartoon film to warn workers in the ports sector not to be tempted to cooperate with international drugs dealers.
CEPA, the organisation that represents employers and employees in the ports of Belgium, launches the video today, titled Snel bijverdienen? (A quick bit on the side?), as part of its campaign to tackle the growing quantities of illegal drugs coming into Europe through the port of Antwerp.
The message: cooperating with the dealers will sooner or later end badly.
The campaign also includes the creation of an anonymous reporting website where companies or dock workers who have been approached by drugs dealers can report what has happened.
“The port of Antwerp is an important motor of our prosperity,” the campaign states. “For goods from all over the world, our port is the gateway to Flanders and the rest of Europe. No fewer than 150,000 employees owe their jobs to the port.
“Unfortunately, criminal organisations also abuse our port for drug trafficking. We cannot allow that! We, the port employees, determine what goes in and out of our port. And drugs are not among them. That is why the entire Antwerp port community is working together to give drug crime no chance.”
The VRT spoke to one dock worker called Tom who had been approached. He met a man in a cafe who turned out to be a drugs trafficker. The task was simple, he said, would be impossible to trace back to Tom and would be well rewarded.
“If you go along, your life is 90% over,” he said. “Because they increase the pressure and constantly raise the bar. They put more and more pressure on you by giving you something extra. And then you think you will go undetected.”
Tom, who reckons he made about €15,000 from cooperating with the gang, reckons about half of all port workers are in some way involved.
“Every port employee can be approached,” said Paul Valkeniers of CEPA. “Cocaine is smuggled in in all kinds of cargo or any ship, and every port company must be on its guard.”
Any employee caught in the act will be abandoned by the smugglers, and will be liable to severe criminal penalties of ten years or more in prison. And the criminal penalty is not the worst part.
“I was relieved when I was arrested,” Tom said. The worst part was, if he had to go to jail, he would miss his family for a long time. “When you think about that, you get mad at yourself. Why did I do it?”