Quantities of illegal narcotics have been stolen from a contraband lockup inside the Liège Airport customs area, according to Belgian newspaper Le Soir on 3 May.
According to multiple sources within the airport, illegal substances that had been seized at the border, had been stolen by unknown individuals from a secure lockup.
Liège Airport is predominantly a freight airport. Nevertheless, more than 170,000 passengers fly through Liège Airport each year, with many flights from Spain, Morocco, and Tunisia.
Much of the drugs intercepted at the airport are seized in mail packages, usually containing drugs purchased on the dark-web and shipped from abroad.
No more drugs seizures?
Reports confirmed by Le Soir indicate, bizarrely, that front-line customs officers at the airport have been asked “not to carry out any more drug seizures” during their spot checks, and to halt targeted interceptions of drugs.
An inability to secure the airport’s drugs storage, Le Soir suggests, could be the reason for the bizarre decision. It is likely that the storage area for seized drugs has been completely compromised by criminals, meaning that authorities are unwilling to seize drugs for fear that they fall into the hands of organised crime.
According to unnamed contacts within the airport, only the head of the Liège Airport customs authorities is currently permitted to enter the drugs lockup. A large drugs seizure carried out by a customs officer several weeks ago, Le Soir reports, earned the officer a reprimand, rather than praise.
Florence Angelici, a spokesperson for the Belgian Federal Public Service Finance confirmed the theft of drugs at the airport, but stated that the quantities were “minimal”, “seized from postal envelopes.”
Despite this, the SPF Finance assured that it was taking the matter seriously and had filed a complaint with the authorities. The spokesperson refused to confirm or deny reports that customs officers had been asked to stop intercepting drugs.
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Liège Airport has been at the centre of growing controversy over the last few years.
In 2021, the government began investigating reports that a large warehouse owned by Chinese online retailer Alibaba was a front for Chinese espionage, accessing “sensitive and secure areas of the airport.”
Locals have also objected to how noisy the airport is, despite promises made to local officials that noise levels at the airport would be kept to a minimum.