Panama, Colombia seize massive amounts of drugs headed to Rotterdam
Authorities in Panama and Colombia announced the discovery of vast quantities of illegal drugs destined for Rotterdam. The discovery of nearly 3,500 kilograms of narcotics in Panama was the largest-ever bust in that country. Another 2,300 kilograms of cocaine was also found in Colombia. The announcements were made the same week that investigators in Rotterdam found over 1,400 kilograms of cocaine.
In the largest drug bust in Panama’s history, local officials said they found 100 suitcases containing 3,499 one-kilogram packets of cocaine on board a container ship which originated in San Vicente, Chile. Authorities said they were already on high alert for the ship out of concern for a history of illegal cargo transported from Chile, via Panama, to the Netherlands.
Unidades operacionales, a través del Centro de Operaciones Aeronavales (CROAN), ubican en una terminal portuaria del Pacífico 100 maletines contentivos de 3,499 paquetes de sustancia ilícita, ocultos en un contenedor a bordo de un buque procedente de San Vicente/Chile 🇨🇱 pic.twitter.com/KeKU0XusHt— Senan Panamá (@SENANPanama) October 30, 2021
When the ship arrived at the Pacific port in the Central America country, authorities boarded the vessel and discovered that the customs seals were manipulated, a representative of the military told local media outlets. The narcotic had not yet been identified when investigators announced the bust on Saturday just before midnight Central European Summer Time.
This year, authorities in Panama discovered nearly 100,000 kilograms of drugs, the vast majority of which was cocaine. Drug traffickers often use the Central American country as a transit point. Despite their best efforts, several large shipments of cocaine arrived in the Netherlands from Panama just in the past year.
Nearly 2,300 kilograms of cocaine found in Colombia
Also on Saturday, in the Colombian port of Cartagena, a shipment of 2,279 kilograms of cocaine was found concealed in packages of one kilo each. Local authorities put the value of the seizure at 400 billion pesos, which converted equates to just under 91 million euros. The drugs were also destined for the port of Rotterdam.
#TodosContraElNarcotráfico | Como respuesta a los controles realizados en el puerto marítimo de #Cartagena, @PoliciaAntiNar logró la incautación de 3 toneladas de clorhidrato de cocaína, afectando las rentas criminales en en más de 400 mil millones de pesos colombianos. pic.twitter.com/OwVxiAuMjs— Dirección de Seguridad Ciudadana (@PoliciaDisec) October 30, 2021
Similar to the Panama bust, alert officers noticed problems with the customs seals on a refrigerated sea container set for export to the Netherlands. "After this, the uniformed officers decided to pass this container through the scanner. When they saw the images, they noticed that it presented a series of anomalies, which led to a physical inspection, uncovering 29 duffel bags with 2,270 rectangular packages of varying colors,” a spokesperson told local local media outlets there.
Another 109 million euros of cocaine found in Rotterdam
This past Thursday, investigators in Rotterdam found 930 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a sea container loaded with used cooking oil. The container arrived in the Netherlands from Curacao and was destined for a company in Ter Aar, Zuid-Holland. The business is not believed to be involved in the smuggling operation. The cocaine carried a street value of about 69 million euros, the Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam said.
Another shipment worth 40 million euros was found earlier in the week. Customs officials discovered 529 kilograms of cocaine on Tuesday in the port side hold of the MS Trudy, a ship which was moored at a business on the Merwedehaven. The boat arrived from Brazil after making stops in Dunkirk and Antwerp. When examining the hold, authorities removed packages and bundles wrapped in plastic with anywhere from 5 to 10 kilograms of cocaine.
The Rotterdam busts were part of an ongoing collaboration between Customs, port police, the prosecutor's office, and FIOD, the financial crimes inspectorate. All drugs seized in the Netherlands were destroyed.