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Rotterdam customs release images of massive coke haul worth more than €8million

The pallets contained loads of pumpkins that had been brought in by container

Rotterdam customs released images of a massive coke haul worth more than €8million made recently

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Customs authorities in the Dutch port of Rotterdam have released these pictures showing some of the massive haul of 106 kilograms of cocaine discovered hidden in the shelves of pallets.

The pallets contained loads of pumpkins that had been brought in by container from Costa Rica.

A total of 424 packages were found in the planks of the pallets. The street value is estimated at eight million euros.

The HARC team, comprising Customs, Seaport Police and the Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam, is further investigating the case.

The drugs were discovered hidden in planks

According to a recent BBC investigation, young men who are not usually hardened criminals, are often recruited from deprived areas around Rotterdam to hide in empty shipping containers at the port where they can access smuggled drugs.

They are paid around 2,000 euros per kilo of cocaine collected and until recently the legal risks were relatively small.

With a fine of less than 100 euros unless they were caught in possession of drugs, some of them even carried cash to pay the fine on the spot, Dutch police told the BBC.

The BBC revealed how at the port of Rotterdam, the primary entry point for cocaine into Europe, authorities have arrested over 400 of these so-called “drug extractors”.

The extractors are brought into the port inside “hotel containers”, which are declared as empty on the shipping manifests but in fact contain basic amenities.

But the number of extractors being found prompted a change. In a two-week period in September, 110 individuals were caught, several multiple times.

A new law, that came into force on January 1, 2022, means any person found at the port without reason can face up to a year in jail.

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