Professional diver suspected of smuggling cocaine, risks 4 years of prison

Professional diver suspected of smuggling cocaine, risks 4 years of prison

The Public Prosecutor’s Office has demanded 4 years in prison for a professional diver suspected of helping a drug gang with a smuggling operation. The police found Nabil K. in the early morning at the most northern point of the Antwerp harbour, near a quay that’s infamous for drugs business. They found him after an anonymous tip came in that a diver was seen in the river the Schelde where it’s incredibly dangerous to swim, let alone dive.

“It is a known fact that criminal organisations that smuggle cocaine sometimes turn to professional divers,” according to Ken Witpas from the Public Prosecutor’s Office. “Those divers are used for so-called drop-offs, when packages of cocaine are thrown off a ship into the water. We also have knowledge of cases where divers have to disconnect ‘torpedos’ full of cocaine that are attached to ships below the waterline.”

Nabil K. was found in wet clothes. He told the police he just woke up after participating in a gay sex party, where he drank too much alcohol. “I just woke up in my underwear,” the father of seven children stated. A used condom in his pocket had to serve as evidence that he’d had a wild night of partying, not cocaine-diving, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

Investigators discovered a complete set of diving equipment on the embankment, together with a wheelbarrow. Other suspects or traces of drugs were not found. Originally Nabil K. denied the equipment was his, but he eventually confessed. He changed his story a few times, according to Witpas. “First he said he was going to pick oysters with a friend. Later he said he was looking for a safe that was supposedly dumped in the river, for that same friend.”

As there is no evidence of drug trafficking, the Public Prosecutor’s Office is persecuting him for gang formation. Nabil K.’s lawyer said that there is no evidence that his client committed a crime. “He made some contradictory statements. That might make my client a suspect, but not necessarily guilty.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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