‘Much to be done’: 35.8 tonnes of cocaine seized in port of Antwerp

‘Much to be done’: 35.8 tonnes of cocaine seized in port of Antwerp
A customs inspection in Antwerp. Credit: Belga.

In the first six months of this year, 35.8 tonnes of cocaine, 2.2 tonnes of hashish and 1.3 tonnes of heroin were seized in the port of Antwerp, Vincent Van Peteghem, Belgium's Finance Minister, announced.

Speaking at the border inspection post in the East Flemish Beveren, he praised the work of Operation Sky ECC, which cracked an encrypted messaging service used by drug traffickers, and stated that drug seizures are back at the levels they were at two years ago, before the pandemic.

He also stressed that there is much to be done in the fight against drug trafficking, especially given the recent uptick in drug-related violence in Antwerp.

During the event, he confirmed a €70 million investment for the port's scanning capacity, which will result in five new mobile drive-through scanning systems and five new backscatters, among others, and an additional 108 customs officers being recruited.

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According to Van Peteghem, Panama, Ecuador, Paraguay, Colombia and Brazil remain the top five countries of origin for drug smuggling, with 28 tonnes of cocaine destined for Belgium intercepted in foreign ports thanks to international cooperation.

Europe has become a more attractive location for drug criminals than the United States, as cartels have to cooperate with the Mexican cartels for imports into the US and they get a better price in Europe.

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