Over €5 billion in cocaine seized at Rotterdam port last year
Cocaine with a street value of over 5 billion euros was intercepted in the port of Rotterdam last year. A collaboration of customs, FIOD, Seaport Police, and Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam found 70,571 kilos of cocaine in various shipments, 74 percent more than in 2020. This is a new record in drug seizures. The previous record, from 2020, was over 40,000 kilos.
Elsewhere in the country, the Rotterdam authorities assisted in the interception of another 2,156 kilograms of cocaine.
The Hit and Run Cargo Team (HARC) arrested 62 suspects for drug transports and launched 194 criminal investigations. They also detained drug extractors, who wanted to remove the narcotics from various containers, some 400 times. In September, 110 extractors were caught in the port area in just two weeks. According to the Public Prosecution Service (OM), some extractors were arrested multiple times, one of them even nine times. They got away with a small fine for unauthorized presence in a no-trespassing area.
The OM said it is happy with the new extractors law that took effect on January 1. Anyone found unauthorized in Dutch ports or airports can be sentenced to a maximum of two years in prison. The authorities hope "the new law will have a deterrent effect."
The HARC team's annual overview also shows that refrigerated containers with bananas are popular for drug transports. Once, the authorities found a batch of cocaine in an imported motor home.
In addition to cocaine, 1,000 kilograms of DMT (a psychoactive drug) and over 1,500 kilograms of heroin were seized in collaboration with the British National Crime Agency (NCA). According to the OM, this was the largest interception of heroin ever in the Netherlands.
The biggest cocaine find happened on December 30, when authorities discovered 4,1850 kilos worth over 300 million euros in a shipment of bananas from Ecuador. The drugs were destroyed, the OM said on January 5. The empty container was sent to its destination - the port of Antwerp - and followed from there. The Belgian authorities arrested seven people, five from Belgium and two from England, in a warehouse in Essen, nearby Roosendaal.
In the whole of 2021, 22 batches above 1,000 kilos of cocaine were discovered.
In connection with the drug flow to Rotterdam, the HARC team said it is "satisfied" with the new Cabinet's intention to release more money to fight organized (drug) crime, including to combat corruption. "One thing is certain: without help from within the port, criminals have nothing." In addition, training courses are offered to make port personnel more resilient, which is necessary to act against extractors.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.