It used to be clear: Cocaine comes from South America, crystal meth and other synthetic drugs mainly from Eastern Europe. Apparently a lot is changing about that right now.
Berlin – The signs are alarming. The police and drug experts have been saying for some time that the dangerous drug crystal meth has been on the rise for years.
So far, the synthetic drug came from the Czech Republic and was a problem especially in Saxony, southern Brandenburg, Thuringia and Bavaria. Crystal meth is now also reaching Berlin in larger quantities – and there are new countries of origin and distribution channels. This is shown by the largest single find to date of 18.1 kilograms in the capital, which the customs investigation office and the public prosecutor presented on Thursday.
In Berlin and Brandenburg, crystal meth has so far been of “secondary importance”, said the head of the Berlin-Brandenburg customs investigation, Oliver Pampel-Jabrane. In the past few years only quantities of up to a few kilograms have been found. In 2020, ten kilos were discovered for the first time in one fell swoop. Now comes this new big find. Therefore, one has to “reassess” the situation, he emphasized.
The synthetically produced crystal meth describes a crystal form of methamphetamine, which in turn is a modification of the stimulant amphetamine. Ecstasy, which has been used as a party drug since the 1990s, is also derived from amphetamine. Meth is more addictive than other illegal drugs, but it is also quite cheap.
Cocaine, Ecstasy, Marijuana
100 customs investigation officers and special forces raided private apartments, depot apartments and cars belonging to a gang of three suspected drug wholesalers on Tuesday. In addition to crystal meth, they found 29.6 kilos of cocaine, 47.3 kilos of ecstasy, 2 kilos of marijuana and 30,000 euros in cash. Guarded by four members of a special unit, customs showed the seized drugs: bags full of crystal meth crystals, plastic bags with colored ecstasy tablets, cocaine pressed into large white blocks.
Customs and the public prosecutor spoke of a “sensitive blow” against the drug trade and an “outstanding drug discovery” with a street sales value of 4.2 million euros. Two Germans aged 61 and 51 and a 40-year-old Vietnamese were arrested and are in custody.
The gang is said to have smuggled the drugs to Berlin in order to sell them to middlemen and small traders who in turn are supposed to offer them throughout the city. The Vietnamese is said to have used specially rented hotel rooms for storage.
Crystal meth on the rise
After only a few hundred grams of crystal meth were found in Berlin in the past, the amounts have recently “increased steadily” and have now reached new dimensions, said Chief Public Prosecutor Günter Sohnrey. The consumption first became noticeable in the Vietnamese community and also in the area of parties in the homosexual scene. The problem continues to spread, said Sohnrey.
The origin is also new: the current find comes from the Netherlands and Poland. In the Netherlands, the largest laboratory to date for the production of crystal meth was discovered only in the summer. More than 100 kilograms of the drug could be produced there per day – with a commercial value of around one million euros.
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said in the summer that a growing influence of Mexican drug cartels was to be feared in the Netherlands and Belgium. Its members are increasingly involved in the production of illegal synthetic drugs, especially crystal meth.
The drug cartels with an “enormous potential for violence” could gain influence in Europe and engage in violent clashes with other drug gangs. Germany is an important sales market for international gangs.
A detail from the investigation into the German-Vietnamese gang in Berlin shows how globally the drug business is now organized. They also sent ecstasy to Vietnam in parcels. The tablets were hidden in electrical appliances, cosmetic tubes and candy bags. dpa