Three weekend busts uncover 775 kilograms of cocaine

Customs officers near Rotterdam found 350 kg of cocaine
Customs officers working near the Rotterdam port found 350 kg of cocaine hidden in sports bags inside a van at Oostvoorne, Zuid-Holland. Dec. 27, 2019OM

Customs officials in and around Rotterdam found a total of 775 kilograms of cocaine in three separate investigations. The busts all took place between Friday and Sunday, with authorities taking seven people into custody.

A batch of 170 kilograms of the drug was found on a ship this past weekend after the vessel's captain reported "that he saw people on his ship who were not part of the ship's crew," police said. Customs officials and police think the unknown people were on a refueling vessel, or bunker ship, that was moored to the main ship. They likely climbed aboard the ship, which had sailed from Colombia to Maasvlakte, Rotterdam, "with the aim of transferring cocaine from the seafaring ship to the bunker ship."

The bunkering tanker departed after the other vessel's captain called the authorities. The bunker ship's crew of four were arrested on charges related to drug trafficking. 

On Saturday, customs officials searched a sea container from Brazil at the Rotterdam Port. Inside, some 255 kilos of cocaine was found hidden among large bags filled with silica powder meant for a concrete industry business in Hoogvliet. No arrests were made in that case, the OM said.

The busy weekend began when a company van was stopped at a checkpoint in Oostvoorne after it exited the Maasvlakte sea container terminal near the Rotterdam harbor. Customs officials searched the cargo hold of the van, and found two men sitting with over a dozen large black duffel bags.

Some 350 kilograms of cocaine was found inside the sports bags, the prosecutor's office (OM) said on Friday. The two men and the van's driver were arrested by police and customs.

The drug seizures all took place as part of a joint venture between the Customs office, tax inspectorate FIOD, the harbor police, and the Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam.

Cocaine in a silica powder shipment from Brazil
Some 255 kilograms of cocaine found in a silica powder shipment from Brazil. Dec. 28, 2019OM