HomeEuropeBelgium PM slams ‘unacceptable’ threats against justice minister amid drug war

Belgium PM slams ‘unacceptable’ threats against justice minister amid drug war

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Saturday condemned serious threats against the country’s justice minister as “totally unacceptable” after a car containing firearms was found near his home.

Three people were arrested in the Netherlands late Friday in connection with the threats against Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne. The arrests came after a vehicle with a Dutch number plate and containing a Kalashnikov, other firearms and two bottles of gasoline was found near the minister’s house in the Flemish town of Kortrijk, VRT and other Belgian media reported.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office was informed last week of the threats, which were considered serious upon a preliminary investigation. According to Belgian media, the threats could have involved kidnapping by drug criminals.

Van Quickenborne has been placed under strict security and will not participate in planned activities in the coming days, the minister said on Facebook Saturday.

Belgium has ramped up its fight against organized crime including drug traffickers in recent weeks after an unprecedented flare-up of drug-related violence this summer.

“We won’t be intimidated by anyone,” said De Croo on Saturday on Twitter. “Work continues.”

Belgium and the Netherlands have become the main hubs in Europe for cocaine trafficking, according to the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol. The booming drug trade has led to an increase in assassinations, kidnappings and shootings, according to the agency.

The Belgian city of Antwerp, one of the world’s largest ports, has struggled to quell drug trafficking violence between gangs for several years. Ninety tons of cocaine were seized in the city in 2021.

“The people behind this are achieving the opposite of what they are aiming for,” Van Quickenborne said. “We will continue to fight organized crime, with more manpower and resources than before.”



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