Seven Dutch nationals arrested in Antwerp on Tuesday evening were probably on their way to steal 10 tonnes of cocaine which had been discovered hidden in a container by customs officials, the AD said on Thursday.
The seven were travelling in a minibus with Dutch number plates and had at least three guns with them, the paper said.
They were following the same route as the customs officials who were taking the drugs to a storage depot. They realized they were being followed and alerted the police who stopped the vehicle and arrested the occupants.
The seven men, aged between 22 and 35, will appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Thursday.
The drugs, with a street value of €500 million, had been hidden in a consignment of soy flour from Sierre Leone, the paper said.
Drug seizures at Antwerp port reached a record 110 tonnes last year, compared with 90 tonnes in 2021, according to the Belgian authorities.
By contrast, police and customs officials discovered almost 47 tonnes of cocaine at Rotterdam port last year, well down on the 70 tonnes seized in 2021.
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