Customs see decline in drugs smuggled through postal packages

Belgian customs intercepted significantly less drugs in postal parcels this year, the FPS Finance announced on Wednesday. However, the number of new synthetic drugs discovered in postal parcels rose sharply.

In 2022, 967 parcels were intercepted, compared to 282 this year. Khat, a stimulant plant, saw the most dramatic decline: almost 5,000 kg was intercepted last year, compared to 285 kg in 2023. Customs attributes this drop to the takedown of a major smuggling line, which smuggled almost the entire khat yield in 2022. Customs also link the drop to the fact that khat smuggling in Belgium is punishable by imprisonment, as opposed to fines and community service abroad.

Smugglers produce drugs mainly in Belgium and the Netherlands and then ship them to countries where they can make more money, like the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and Colombia.

Customs reported that they are increasingly intercepting synthetic drugs such as ecstasy, MDMA and ice, and newer types such as HHC and 3-CMC. In 2022, around 115 kg of synthetic drugs were intercepted in postal and courier parcels, compared to more than 160 kg last year.


The capture of over 200kg of cocaine in East Flanders © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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