By Aoife Walsh
A ketamine stash worth tens of millions of euros has been uncovered by Dutch police in its “largest ever” haul.
Dozens of boxes containing two tonnes of the drug were discovered in a shed in Googweg, in Muiderberg, east of Amsterdam, following a tip-off, police say.
A 55-year-old man, who was living in a house on the premises, was arrested.
Under Dutch laws, ketamine is not illegal, but it may not be traded or stored without registration.
Trading without registration carries a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment.
Police estimate that the haul carries a total street value of almost €55m (£47.2m).
“This is the largest amount of ketamine ever found in the Netherlands,” it said in a statement.
A supply of hard drugs was also found, which along with the ketamine, was taken away and destroyed, it added.
Police claim that ketamine trade is often “accompanied by other forms of crime, such as money laundering and possession of weapons”.
The Netherlands’ extensive transport network, its lenient drug laws and penalties, and its proximity to a number of lucrative markets, has created a hub for the drugs trade to flourish.
Ketamine is often described as a “party drug” because of its hallucinogenic effects. It can cause serious harm to the body, and be fatal, if used this way.
Recreational use comes with risks such as memory problems, bladder issues, and muscle paralysis.
The drug is sometimes used by doctors as an anaesthetic, sedative and pain reliever. It is also commonly used on animals.
Because ketamine is licensed to be used by doctors as an anaesthetic in some countries, it can be prescribed off-licence for depression. This is happening in private clinics in the US and the UK.