Experience the ruthless world of the drugs trade in the port of Rotterdam in the exhibition ‘Dealing with Drugs’ (recommended age: 14+). You play, as visitor, the main role yourself. Money is the great seducer and will confront you with impossible dilemmas.

Where do you draw the line?

Most drugs enter our society via the port of Rotterdam. In ‘Dealing with Drugs’, you will be confronted by serious choices to make, shocking facts and figures, and the impact that the drug trade has.

What would you do as port employee, customs officer, dealer or judge? Do you opt for more checks within the port or do you opt for speed and profit? Do you take the 3,000 euros you are being offered for letting someone use your access pass for the container terminal? It’s easy money if you would normally have to work for three months to earn this. Do you punish this young dealer or do you let him go? It’s time for a showdown. Time to tackle real-life issues from the Rotterdam drugs world.

It’s been big business for centuries

The drugs trade generates unimaginably large amounts of money. The VOC knew this as early as the 17th Century and not for nothing did they have the monopoly on the Dutch opium trade. After the VOC's bankruptcy, the Dutch state took over this whole business without any hesitation. In the Netherlands, drugs only became illegal in 1919 with the passing of the Opium Act, with this trade proving to be the perfect breeding ground to create an underground economy. These days, a kilo of cocaine has a value of about 25,000 euros when it arrives at the port of Rotterdam, which price doubles again once it hits the street.

The Rotterdam underworld

Each year, about 250 tonnes of cocaine are consumed in Europe. It is not known how much of this is imported via the port of Rotterdam. We read something about it almost every day but few people know about the complex world that is hidden behind the headlines. It’s a world that is becoming increasingly grim and ruthless, and one that is intermingling more and more with legitimate society.

The following (amongst others) cooperated with this experience/exhibition: the Customs Office, the Seaport Police, FIOD, the HARC (Hit And Run Cargo) Team, and ex-dealers from the port city of Rotterdam.

“The trade in drugs is hard as nails, ruthless and very hard to get a handle on. However, the big bucks talk and it can be hard to resist its seductive properties. It’s a good idea to experience this world for yourself, as this underworld is closer to you than you think."  By the scriptwriter for the Dutch TV series Penoza (‘Criminal Underworld’) Chris Westendorp