Scanner at airport not broken but out of use | THE DAILY HERALD

Rotterdam Mayor Atoubaleb (back row in centre) with Curaçao Cabinet members.


WILLEMSTAD–The body scanner at Hato airport in Curaçao is not broken, as Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb recently claimed, but the device is currently not being used either.

  This is according to Customs spokesman for Post Hato, Etienne Cacciano. Why the scanner is out of use, he could not say. Aboutaleb was on the island for a working visit and said that “most drug scanners in both the port and airport have been broken for years.”

  Inquiry shows that there is one scanner at Hato, which is not in use. The two container scanners at the port have been broken for a year. “But that does not mean that there is no checking, said Cacciano. “The Hato team is active at the airport.”

  This team screens passengers on European flights from the moment they check in until they board the plane. Cacciano could not say how this happens, but emphasised that they are “trained to recognise those smuggling drugs”. The screening is mainly based on external characteristics.

  A smuggler was caught just two weeks ago. “We immediately pick up someone like that – we do our work. Only if we are just too late and the person is already on the plane, do we inform Customs at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands.”

  The approach to drug smugglers was boosted after Germany sounded the alarm when Air Berlin started operating to and from Curaçao, offering the traffickers a different route than the heavily controlled flights to Amsterdam.

  The Hato team now only consists of Customs. “We are working on expanding the team with members of the Curaçao Police Force and the Royal Dutch Marechaussee, as it used to be.”

  Luthsel Lourens, Head of Customs at the harbour, said it is true that the two container scanners in the port have been broken for a year. This means that checks of the containers are done “physically, but only on those imported.

  “Departing containers are only checked if there is a tip from the authorities that they might contain drugs. We are responsible for the safety and health of our society and therefore we check all containers that arrive.

  “Their final destination is responsible for this. Containers that go to Rotterdam must therefore be checked there.” Customs, which falls under Finance Minister Kenneth Gijsbertha, does not believe it’s responsible for what may be placed in containers on the island.

  According to Lourens, one of the container scanners will be repaired again soon. “That saves manpower. But we need a plan B.”

  In the 29 years that he worked for Customs, Lourens regularly found drugs in containers. According to him, it doesn’t amount to much. “No drugs are produced in Curaçao. If you compare it with the Netherlands, relatively little comes in through the port.”

  How many drug smugglers have been arrested this year, the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor’s Office could not immediately say.

  The container scanners and the scanners for importing goods at the airport are the responsibility of Customs, which in turn falls under the Ministry of Finance. Minister of Justice Quincy Girigorie is responsible for the body scanner, but does not want to make a statement about the issue because it concerns “operational information regarding safety and the investigation of criminal offences.”

  “The detection and prevention of drug transport via Curaçao to the Netherlands has the emphatic attention of Justice and must be tackled jointly in the Kingdom. Curaçao takes its responsibility in this matter seriously,” Girigorie said in a short response.

Source: The Daily Herald