Seized cocaine will be destroyed immediately as of next year
A system that can immediately render seized drugs unusable will be introduced in Belgium in 2024, the national drugs commissioner announced on Wednesday evening. She compared the system to the explosive suitcases that banks use to transport cash.
Belgium's battle against the illicit drug trade took on new proportions this year, with the stakes raised significantly in November when armed gang members entered a customs site in the port of Antwerp and threatened several employees as they tried to recover a cocaine shipment that had been intercepted and impounded by port security.
"We have become a victim of our own success," Ine Van Wymersch told VRT. However, she highlighted the scale of the challenge – not only due to the highly organised and increasingly aggressive cartels that security forces face but also due to the insufficient means to dispose of seized drugs: "We simply cannot handle such enormous quantities of drugs with only one licensed incinerator."
The drug commissariat was therefore asked to make drug processing more efficient in order to significantly reduce the safety risks associated with guarding confiscated substances.
"We then came up with the idea of a process in which cocaine is immediately deactivated as soon as the drugs have been seized," she said. Flemish Justice minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) previously also indicated that the Flemish Institute for Technological Research would start working on this.
Van Wymersch compared the explosive case with those used during cash transports. That system uses paint and was introduced after cash transports became the target of violent robberies in the 1990s. A similar technology is now being developed for seized cocaine. The drugs would still have to be sent to the incinerator to be permanently destroyed.
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