The interception by customs in Antwerp of almost two tonnes of cocaine appears to be behind the mysterious kidnapping of a man in Rotterdam a week later, police said.
On 28 July, customs officers at the Port of Antwerp discovered a load of about two tonnes of cocaine – 1,899kg to be exact – hidden in a container among a shipment of bananas coming from Ecuador in South America.
An investigation was launched to discover who the intended recipient of the drugs might be. Most fingers pointed towards Antwerp’s northern neighbour Rotterdam.
The two ports, the main containers ports of the continent, are routinely used by drugs smugglers who rely on the sheer volume of traffic to cover their criminal activities.
In the meantime, on 5 August, less than a week after the drugs discovery but before it had officially been announced by customs, a 56-year-old man from Hoofddorp near Amsterdam was kidnapped and mishandled. A police search ensued, and the man was found alive in Delft five days later.
He had been seriously assaulted and dumped by his captors. Local people raised the alarm, and the man was taken to hospital and later allowed home after treatment for his injuries.
However the trail stopped there. Dutch police could find no evidence the victim was in any way connected to the drugs traffic.
The kidnapping appears to have been a case of mistaken identity. Meanwhile a man claiming to have been the real target of the kidnappers has made himself known to police.
Now six arrests have been made in connection with the kidnapping and what followed, and they will appear in court this week. In the meantime the investigation will look into possible links to the drugs traffickers themselves – whoever they may be.