XTC is a problem. Not just because it is a drug and drugs can harm people. The production of XTC and other synthetic drugs comes with the danger of toxic substances, gasses, fire and explosions. The production also creates dangerous waste. This waste often gets dumped in open water or in nature reserves, resulting in hazards for the health of people, animals and plant life. When toxic waste is dumped in open water or sewer systems there is a risk for the quality of drinking water as well.
There is a growing movement focused on tracing laboratories and dumpsites-and prosecuting of the criminals involved. That movement needs the help of everyday people. Now there is a perfume that people can use as a tool.
The initiative is being led by two officers from the Public Prosecutors’ Office in Zwolle. These two officers investigate alternative ways to deal with crime. They applied for an internship at creative agency, Roorda, with the aim of finding out to what extent citizens can contribute to the fight against crime.
They knew that XTC has a distinctive smell. Eventually, they realised that the smell could be used to help people identify where the drug is being produced and report it. So with Roorda’s help, they created a perfume, XTACY, and a campaign for the Dutch government and the National Public Prosecutors’ Office to eradicate XTC.
Joeri Jansen, creative director at Roorda, commented, “Initially we were quite surprised when two public prosecutors applied for an internship. In the end it turned out to be a very smart way for the ladies to steal a strategy and a creative idea from us. We are not averse to unconventional ways to develop campaigns, so we could very much appreciate this daring action. And, of course, it is a big compliment that our campaigns apparently stand out in such a way that even the judiciary notices us. We very much hope that this campaign will be a great success.”
The National Public Prosecutors’ Office will distribute bottles and scent strips of the fragrance among police stations across the Netherlands and ask cities to organise similar actions to make more people aware of the smell and hopefully uncover more drug labs.
The campaign, XTC, a smelly business, kicked off in Den Bosch, capital city of the province with the highest density of drug labs, by distributing testers of the XTACY fragrance in a busy shopping street. The team asked people if they wanted to test the new fragrance “with strong hints of anise” and how they liked it. Then, they explained the full story. Within hours, news of the scent spread through the province capital.
The National Public Prosecutors’ Office also handed out the fragrance to Prime Minister, Mark Rutte.
Public Prosecutor, Lars Stempher, stated, “The approach of synthetic drug production is constantly being renewed because criminals are growing smarter in hiding their labs from police and prosecution. The impact on society increases as labs become more hazardous and more waste is being dumped in the public domain, leading to bigger risks for public health and environmental damage. The drug labs are located in residential areas as well, and there are certain signals by which citizens can recognize the presence of a drug lab, in particular the smell. So we introduced the new fragrance as the important signal of a nearby lab. Under the motto: once smelled, later recognised.”
In 2018, 82 labs and 79 chemical storages were discovered in the Netherlands as well as 292 dump sites of chemical waste. In recent years drug labs are getting bigger and more professional.