Drug handling in the port of Antwerp

International drug cartels use the confusing terrain to smuggle their cocaine imports into the European market.

(Photo: Imago [M])

antwerp The port of Antwerp sits on the Scheldt like a giant octopus. The numerous side arms make it possible to process incoming container ships at the same time. At 150 square kilometres, it is the largest port in Europe in terms of area, more than twice the size of the port of Hamburg.

However, the expansion has a decisive drawback: international drug cartels use the confusing terrain to smuggle their cocaine imports into the European market. Continuous monitoring is impossible, explains Stephan Legein, deputy director of the Belgian customs authority. All the streets of the port are open to the public. Smugglers could climb fences in the dark and take their goods out of the containers without anyone noticing.

Legein is standing in the harbor next to pallets full of boxes of bananas. Tropical fruit containers are a popular place to stash cocaine. Because perishable products arrive in large quantities. Europe and it must be handled quickly. There isn’t much time for checks.

Customs seized for the first time more than 100 tons of cocaine

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