1.5 tonnes of cocaine hidden among asparagus and guitars

Photo: HARC
Photo: HARC

Customs officers have uncovered 1.5 tonnes of cocaine hidden in asparagus and a consignment of guitars at Rotterdam port.

The first haul involved 450 kilos of the drug, hidden in asparagus which was on its way to Spain. Officials say they expect the cocaine would have been removed from the container in Rotterdam.

The second shipment had been hidden in a consignment of guitars from America and were destined for a Dutch company. Customs officers say they think the drug was added to the container during a stop in South America.

The two hauls had a combined street value of €114 million.

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.

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.

Last 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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