12 arrests and 1,500kg of cocaine seized in European West Coast operation
Twelve people have been arrested and more than 1,500 kgs of cocaine seized in an international operation against maritime drug smuggling along the west coast of Europe.
Belgian customs led the operation dubbed White Sea III from 12 June to 11 July. Customs and police focused on maritime smuggling methods in the English Channel, the North Sea and several seaports along the west coast.
The operation revealed a clear trend towards smuggling on board or underneath ships
Maritime smuggling methods include smuggling by crew members, offloading at sea, transferring goods to smaller vessels at sea or attaching them to a ship's hull.
A total of 12 countries participated in the operation, including the Netherlands, the UK, France and Germany.
The countries' services analysed 779 vessels and inspected 79 of them. The operation revealed that, besides smuggling in containers, there is "a clear trend towards smuggling on board or underneath ships".
The operation resulted in 12 arrests and eight seizures amounting to 1,509 kg of cocaine, Belgium's federal public finance service said on Thursday.
Belgian customs led the operation as part of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats, a European cooperation programme to combat all types of crime.
© BELGA PHOTO JACQUES COLLET