Unusual in Belgium: 900 kg of cocaine seized in a load of cocoa beans

The drugs were concealed in hessian bags identical to those containing the officially declared merchandise.

The seizure was made on June 16 and its market value estimated at 45 million euros, customs said in a statement.

The port of Antwerp is the first entry route for cocaine on the European market, a consequence of the historical commercial link with Latin America and its fruit imports.

Drugs from Colombia, but also from Brazil, Ecuador or Panama, are generally concealed in shipments of bananas or pineapples, even if the inventiveness of traffickers to deceive controls continues to develop.

In 2021 the Belgian authorities seized a total of 89.5 tonnes in the port of Antwerp, an increase of 36% compared to the previous year (65.5 t) and a new absolute record.

At the end of May, the total of interceptions amounted to around 24 tonnes, a spokeswoman for customs told AFP on Monday. On an annual basis, this figure reflects a slight slowdown in foreclosures. Customs plans to communicate the results of the first half of the year in mid-July.

Antwerp, the second European port for the transport of goods after Rotterdam (Netherlands), presents itself as the number one on the continent for container traffic, estimated at 159 million tonnes per year since the merger this year with the port of Zeebrugge.

It also claims the role of “primary economic engine” of Belgium, providing 4.5% of the national GDP “with an added value of nearly 21 billion euros”.

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