Five held over drugs on Zeeland beach
Police in Zeeland have collected about 100 bales of cocaine that washed ashore on the beach of the peninsula of Walcheren today. The bales, each about 25cm x 15cm, were probably what four men were trying to collect when they were arrested offshore last Sunday. The drugs had been thrown in the water by a crewmember of a cargo ship, who has also been arrested.
The first bale was spotted Friday morning around 6.00am, by a man walking along the coast; he alerted police who spend the next couple of hours collecting dozens of other duct-taped plastic packages that washed ashore. The search was aborted when high tide set in, but police said they would resume when it has ebbed.The coast near Walcheren (helloIamAldo/Flickr)
The news of the find coincided with a report that police had arrested the five men. Their arrest had been prompted by a detailed report from the National Crime Agency of the UK that a ship carrying a large quantity of drugs was heading toward the Rotterdam harbor. The Hit And Run Cargo (HARC)-team –a joint unit of the Coast Guard, the Navy and maritime police arrest teams- came into action with landside assistance from the police, Tax inspectorate FIOD and the Customs Department.
The Prosecutor’s Office OM in Rotterdam said the ship has been monitored from when it sailed into Dutch waters. And, as was predicted by the National Crime Agency of the UK, the lawmen noticed something being dropped into the water and a boat trying to collect it. That’s when the first four suspects were arrested. The crewmember was held later. On Monday officers found the first bales, which was followed by the dozens that washed up today.
The five suspects –between the ages of 27 and 62- hail from Amsterdam and the former Yugoslavia- have meanwhile been led in front of a Judge of Instruction. The Prosecutor’s Office said this is the first time they arrested people who have used this method to smuggle drugs. “It has happened in the past that bags with cocaine have washed up, but that is probably because the smugglers had not been able to retrieve them from the water after they were thrown off the cargo ship,” the OM said in its press release. The contraband has meanwhile been destroyed.