Rotterdam’s mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has called for all shipments of fruit arriving in the port to be screened for drugs to restrict the international narcotics trade.
Aboutaleb and his counterpart in Antwerp, Bart de Wever, say tropical fruit is commonly used to conceal cocaine and and other drugs, but only a small percentage of containers are currently checked.
The two mayors have written to their respective prime ministers urging them to provide the resources to screen 100% of fruit shipments. It follows a working visit to Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica to study the drugs supply chain.
They also called for security at the two ports to be improved using artificial intelligence and said better co-operation was needed with countries where the drugs are produced to trace the flow of money through the black market.
But shipping firms said screening 100% of containers would lead to long delays at the port, which would affect legitimate supplies.
Marcel Bruggen of ABC Logistics told local broadcaster Rijnmond: ‘We’re the last link in the chain. If all containers are checked it will cost a lot of time and take longer for us to collect them.
‘You could maybe scan them, but opening every container is not an option.’
Antwerp and Rotterdam are two of the biggest ports for drug smuggling in Europe. Last year 90,000 kg of cocaine were intercepted in Antwerp, while 70,000 kg were recovered in Rotterdam, a record in both cases.
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