Belgian customs deploy mobile scanners against drug smuggling

The Belgian Customs service has inaugurated three mobile scanners that will be used to check high-risk containers. By the end of the year, nine scanners will be in operation. Finance minister Vincent Van Peteghem called it "a milestone in our ongoing fight against drug trafficking".

Until now, high-risk containers had to be transported from the terminals to the border inspection post, where they were scanned for drugs. From Wednesday, customs officers will be able to scan these containers at the docks.

The mobile scanners cost 100 million euros, with the federal government paying 75 million euros and the remainder being European financing.

Customs eventually want to reach at least 350,000 scans per year. They will be fed into a central image storage platform, where AI-based algorithms will predict which containers might contain drugs.

Belgium has become the European gateway for cocaine shipped from South America. In 2020, 60 tonnes of cocaine were intercepted at the port of Antwerp, a record at the time. Last year, that grew to 116 tonnes. Only a fraction of all drugs are intercepted.



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Customs intercepted record quantity of 116 tonnes of cocaine in the port of Antwerp
Last year, Belgian customs confiscated a record-breaking 116 tonnes of cocaine at the port of Antwerp, Finance minister of Vincent Van Peteghem...

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