Dutch customs in massive $362M cocaine haul

Published November 1, 2021, 10:25 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch customs officers have seized over four tons of cocaine hidden in soy bags in the port of Rotterdam, in the country’s largest haul this year, the public prosecutor’s office said on Sunday.

EU authorities said this bust far exceeds past drugs hauls they have made. (Agencia EFE)

The smuggled drugs, with an estimated value of 313 million euros ($362 million), were discovered overnight Saturday aboard a container bound from Paraguay via Uruguay to a company in Portugal.

”It has been the largest haul discovered so far this year” in the Netherlands, a public prosecution official told the ANP news agency.

The haul comes on the back of almost-daily seizures in Europe’s largest port last week, now seen as a major gateway for drug trafficking — particularly cocaine — into the continent.

Police officers in September snatched a similar amount of cocaine in the harbor, estimated at 301 million euros.

The EU’s policing agency has warned that the Netherlands and neighboring Belgium are becoming major hubs for cocaine, especially for supplies coming from Colombia.

The North Sea coast has now ”overtaken the Iberian peninsula as the primary point of entry for cocaine reaching Europe,” Europol said in a report, released in September.

Last year alone, cocaine seizures in Antwerp totaled some 65.6 tons, Europol said in the ”Cocaine Insights” report.

In February, Germany and Belgium seized 23 tonnes in a record haul. The drugs were stashed in shipping containers.

After cannabis, cocaine is now the second-most popular drug in Western and Central Europe, with the most recent estimates suggesting there were some 4.4 million users over the past year, the Europol report said.