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 announced on Wednesday in the Netherlands, alongside his Dutch counterpart, Aukje de Vries.
Cocaine seizures in the port of Antwerp consistently set new records year after year. Van Peteghem says this highlights the federal government's investment in "personnel and resources for customs". The delivery of the first mobile scanner in the Certified Pick up programme is due by the end of this month.
The total seizures for 2023 - 121 tonnes for all of Belgium - significantly surpassed the 2022 figure of 110 tonnes.
The port of Antwerp remains a popular destination for the South American drug trade. Colombia, Ecuador and Panama consistently rank among the top countries of origin, extending to Dutch seaports as well. Van Peteghem stressed the importance of cooperation with the Netherlands.
Belgian and Dutch customs work together to tackle drug smuggling. The Dutch customs diving team operates in Antwerp, and both countries engage in joint efforts with Latin American partners. Additionally, they cooperate in the development of automatic image recognition in scans.
On Tuesday evening, a significant drug-related operation led to the arrest of 22 individuals, including three police officers in Antwerp and Brussels.
#FlandersNewsService | Finance minister Vincent Van Peteghem © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE