Port of Antwerp still flooded with South American cocaine

Drugs, especially cocaine from South America, continue to flood the port of Antwerp, the semi-annual figures from Belgian Customs show. In the first half of the year, 43.43 tonnes of cocaine were intercepted, along with 2,803 kilograms of heroin and 161 kilograms of MDMA.

Hidden in a cargo of bananas or the refrigeration unit of a container, cocaine continues to find its way into the Port of Antwerp. The 43.43 tonnes represents a 21 per cent increase compared to the half-year figure for June last year (35.8 tonnes).

In 2021, the half-year figure was higher. An exceptional amount of drugs was seized as part of the European Operation SKY ECC. This international police cooperation uncovered a criminal communications network by cracking the Sky ECC crypto phones of the US-Canadian company Sky Global.

Increasing production and consumption

Cocaine production and consumption continue to increase worldwide. In particular, production is increasing in Colombia and Bolivia. Most of the drugs seized in South America and destined for Antwerp come from Ecuador and Panama. Here, too, the figures continue to rise.

Since 2013, the amount of drugs seized has increased. Last year, almost 110 tonnes of cocaine were held in the Port of Antwerp, a record. It was the first time that the 100-tonne mark was exceeded.

We continue to invest in equipment and personnel not to disrupt society and the port

To step up the fight against drugs in the port, the '100 per cent scanning of high-risk containers' project has been underway for some time. Five mobile scanners and additional staff will be deployed by the end of the year.

"We continue to invest in equipment and personnel not to disrupt society and the port," said Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V). "The safe operation of the port terminals is essential.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS

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