Amsterdam targets sex and drug crime

Dec. 7, 2008 at 2:05 AM

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Dutch officials say they hope to rein in criminal elements of the freewheeling drug and sex culture of Amsterdam by closing some brothels and marijuana cafes.

Officials say the businesses being targeted, even though they are legal, contribute to organized crime, the BBC reports.

"Money laundering, extortion and human trafficking are things you do not see on the surface but they are hurting people and the city. We want to fight this," said Deputy Mayor Lodewijk Asscher. "We can still have sex and drugs but in a way that shows the city is in control."

Officials had been talking about a crackdown for months. But the details released this week are more stringent than expected. One major target is the lighted window in which prostitutes in revealing outfits show off their wares. Under the city's plan, the number of such establishments would fall from 482 to 243.

About half the 76 marijuana cafes would also be shut down, the report said.

City authorities said they hope they can lure more respectable businesses downtown -- art galleries for example -- once the red light district is smaller.

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