A total of 39.6 tonnes of cocaine was seized in Antwerp Province in 2017, the Federal Judiciary Police, PJF, stated on Friday, noting that this amount was one-third more than in 2016. Average shipments were large and the drug, which comes in mainly through the port, was concealed in an increasingly inventive manner, the police officials said.
Hauls amounting to dozens of kilogrammes are becoming increasingly less frequent and seizures are now regularly measured in tonnes, according to the PJF in Antwerp, which has observed an upsurge in the supply from South America.
Picking up sports bags when containers are being offloaded now seems a thing of the past since the quays are under better surveillance and the smugglers are more creative. For example, police officials have found drugs hidden on the inside of clothes or in pots of jam.
Two cocaine collection sites have been upgraded: Antwerp Port and Poppel.
In 2017, Antwerp Police conducted 104 drug-related investigations, about 20% more than the previous year, but fewer than the 115 carried out in 2014. A total of 135 persons were arrested, as against 162 in 2016, while the value of the seizures increased sharply from 7.52 million euros in 2016 to 10.22 million euros in 2017.