Three cocaine shipments worth €180 mil. intercepted at Rotterdam port
Customs authorities intercepted a total of nearly 2,400 kilograms of cocaine in three different batches on Monday and Tuesday evening. The drugs carry a combined street value of over 180 million euros, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said in separate statements released this week.
The authorities found the first batch on Monday at a business park in Rotterdam. Customs officers discovered 361 kilograms of cocaine in a container of peanuts sent from Argentina. The specialized Hit-and-Run Cargo team (HARC) then checked another container listing the same sender, cargo, and destination. There they found another 505 kilograms of cocaine. The drugs found on Monday were worth over 65 million euros.
The far bigger seizure was found a day later during a check at the port of Rotterdam. Customs officials seized 1,533 kilograms of cocaine in one inspection.
"The drugs were hidden in a container loaded with apples from Panama," the OM said. Investigators noticed many black wheeled duffle bags as part of the shipment, in which the cocaine was hidden.
Dutch authorities have warned of "drug extractors" in the past, with over 450 incidents where one was arrested last year alone. Also called collectors, they are considered a low-level but critical part of the drug trafficking process. They sneak into the port, force their way into containers, and try to remove illegal drug shipments before the authorities find them.
"Extractors are of great importance when using this form of smuggling to import narcotics," the OM said on Wednesday.
The drugs were destroyed, and the investigation into all three cases will continue. No arrests have been made. The OM does not think the recipient of the containers is involved in drug trafficking.
The HARC team is a collaboration of Customs, FIOD, Seaport Police, and OM. They work together to fight drug trafficking, especially in the port of Rotterdam.