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Belgium names first national drug czar in fight against narco-terrorism

Belgium names first national drug czar in fight against narco-terrorism

by host

The Belgian government on Friday appointed Ine Van Wymersch as the country’s first drug commissioner, in an attempt to boost efforts against drug crime. 

“I have accepted the assignment and will take my responsibility to be part of the solution,” said Van Wymersch, adding that the most important task is to coordinate on the ground to curb organized drug crime.

Drug-related violence is on the increase across Belgium — and particularly in the city of Antwerp, which houses the country’s largest port, and where a young girl died in a shooting last month.

“It takes a network to fight a network. Many partners are involved in the fight against drug trafficking violence. Ine Van Wymersch will coordinate this approach,” Minister of Interior Annelies Verlinden wrote on Twitter.

“The right person in the right place. Good luck, Ine,” she added.

The position is part of the seven measures presented Thursday by the federal government — including a bolstered police presence in ports and a ramp-up of scanning infrastructure — to tackle organized drug crime in Belgium.

Belgian ministers met with their Dutch counterparts, port officials, the mayors of Antwerp and Rotterdam, and the world’s largest shipping companies on Friday to discuss the measures.

Van Wymersch will coordinate efforts through consultations with various ministers and federal, regional and local authorities.

“The drug commissioner will not lead investigations,” Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said Thursday, adding that it must be “an independent person with authority” who will be in charge to “drive” the fight against narco-terrorism.

Van Quickenborne said on Twitter after the appointment that Van Wymersch is “one of the very best,” calling her, among other things, “decisive” and a “bridge-builder and clear communicator.”

Van Wymersch began her career as a magistrate in 2011 at the Brussels youth prosecutor’s office, after which she served for many years as the spokesperson for the Brussels prosecutor’s office. In the aftermath of the 2016 Brussels terror attacks she was praised for her clear communication taking on the role as the spokesperson for the victims.

In 2019, she became Belgium’s youngest public prosecutor.

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