Rotterdam port cocaine seizures hit new high, total street value over €5bn

Part of the latest haul. Photo: OM Rotterdam
Part of the latest haul. Photo: OM Rotterdam

Customs officials based at Rotterdam port seized cocaine with a street value of over €5bn last year, or a total of over 70 tonnes of the class A drug, the public prosecution department said on Monday.

A further two tonnes was found at other ports and at Schiphol airport. In total, seizures made in 2021 were up 75% on 2020.

The total was boosted by the find of 4.2 tonnes of the drug in a consignment of bananas from Ecuador, just before the end of the year.

Police also arrested 198 people who were waiting or were involved in removing the drugs from sea containers – some of whom were picked up multiple times. One was arrested on nine separate occasions.

In September, European policing organisation Europol published a report saying the increased use of shipping containers to conceal drugs has made the high volume ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg the new epicentre of the European cocaine market.

While Antwerp is the biggest arrival port for cocaine, most of the drug is ‘is likely intended for organisations operating out of the Netherlands, from where the cocaine is further distributed to other European destinations, Europol said.

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