Australians who use drugs like ecstasy are killing fish... in Holland


Dutch authorities say Aussie appetites for synthetic drugs are polluting the environment and fuelling gang crime in their country.

Do you know where your party drugs are made?
'The MDMA Highway' airs THURSDAY 8:30PM on SBS VICELAND

Users of Ecstasy or MDMA in Australia, pay attention. That 'best-night-of-my-life' euphoric high that you experienced comes at a significant cost - to the environment.

It may come as a surprise, but it's not the Australian environment. It's the Netherlands - thousands of kilometres away.

Holland is the world's biggest producer of synthetic drugs, including MDMA. The crime syndicates behind the trade are dumping toxic waste from their clandestine superlabs into the country's forests and waterways.

"That pill that you use in the weekend causes a lot of environmental issues back in Holland and in Europe," Andy Kraag, head of the country's National Crime Division, told The Feed.

Australia is a significant market for Dutch MDMA producers, who know a pill that cost them 50 cents to make, will sell for twenty bucks here. Making the drugs involves chemicals like acetone, methylamine and hydrochloric acid - all potentially harmful to the country's flora and fauna.

Each year, Kraag says authorities shut down between 50-75 MDMA labs, and clean up over 100 tonnes of chemical waste dumped by drug producers.


Video: Dutch authorities warn about the environmental and criminal impacts of Australian MDMA use. 

This is just the refuse that’s dumped openly.

Dutch drug crime gangs are menacingly inventive - local farmers have even been pressured into mixing the chemical waste in with the fertiliser they spray on their crops.

Refusing the drug gang's demands can result in threats of harm, according to Mayor Jan Boelhouwer whose small town, Gilze en Rijen, is a major hotspot for drug production.

"When the farmer says no... the next sentence is 'well, you live here so have small kids... Aren't you afraid that an accident will take place when they go to school on their bike?'"

The mayor points out that the financial impact on the local taxpayer is huge.

It costs us between 25 thousand to 70 thousands Euros to take it out, to clean the soil and to bring it back in a natural condition again.

While Boelhouwer is doing his bit to try and shut down drug labs in his area, and stop the flow of waste into nature reserves and waterways, he's quick to throw responsibility back on MDMA-loving partygoers themselves.

"Every night where people taking pills, have huge pupils, and use these pills for fun...These people are the reason that we have all this enormous criminality here...with all the pollution it brings."

Where are your drugs made? An exclusive investigation takes The Feed across three continents to find out how the global drug supply chain works. THURSDAY 8:30PM, SBS VICELAND.