Investigators have seized 23 tonnes of cocaine in a record haul of the drug in Europe, with a street value of billions of euros, German customs said on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old owner of an import company in Rotterdam was arrested early on Wednesday in the Netherlands over the illicit cargo, as Dutch police searched two premises — one in the port city and another in a nearby village.
The drugs intercepted were all bound for the “same destination in the Netherlands,” Dutch police said.
“The seized mega shipments to the Netherlands together form an absolute record. Never before has so much cocaine been intercepted at once,” they said in a statement.
German officers had first discovered 16 tonnes of cocaine hidden in containers from Paraguay at the port of Hamburg on Feb. 12, following a tip from a company based in the Netherlands.
Joint investigations into the stash led authorities to swoop on another 7.2 tonnes of cocaine at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium, German customs said.
The stash in Belgium was hidden in a container full of wooden blocks, investigators said.
“The find counts among the world’s top five,” Hamburg customs office head Rene Matschke said.
Customs officers at the busy Port of Hamburg took a closer look at the Paraguayan containers as they noticed “clear irregularities” with its contents — tin cans that were meant to be filled with putty.
Ordering the containers unloaded, they found that “beyond a layer of genuine goods packed just behind the container door, numerous tin cans were in fact filled with other goods.”
In all, about 16 tonnes of cocaine were eventually found in more than 1,700 tin cans.
“We are estimating a street sales value of between 1.5 billion and 3.5 billion euros (US$1.8 billion to US$4.3 billion) for the 16 tonnes,” Matschke said, adding that the value would be higher if the drug was sold “cut” or diluted with other substances.
In all, 102 tonnes of cocaine headed for the European continent were last year intercepted by an international law enforcement project implemented by the UN.
The bulk of the cargo arrived at Europe’s second-biggest port, the Port of Antwerp, where an all-time record of 65.5 tonnes was seized last year.
The drugs come from Latin America — principally Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador — and are usually found hidden away in cargo containers offloaded from ships.
The Australian government yesterday said that it had decided against buying the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine and identified a second case of a rare blood clot likely linked to the AstraZeneca shot. The Australian government had been in talks with the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant, which had asked the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration for provisional registration. However, Australian Minister of Health Greg Hunt ruled out a J&J contract, because its vaccine was similar to the AstraZeneca product, which Australia had already contracted for 53.8 million doses. Hunt said the government was following the advice of Australia’s scientific and technical advisory
The Indonesian government has said it is satisfied with the effectiveness of the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine it has been using, after China’s top disease control official said that current vaccines offer low protection against the novel coronavirus. Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s COVID-19 vaccine program, on Monday said the WHO had found that the Chinese vaccines had met requirements by being more than 50 percent effective. Clinical trials in Indonesia for the vaccine from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac showed that it was 65 percent effective, she said. “It means ... the ability to form antibodies in our bodies is still very
The Oscars are the glitziest night of the year in Hollywood and millions across the globe tune in, but they threaten to be a dud in China after the nomination of a Hong Kong protest documentary. Beijing-born filmmaker Chloe Zhao (趙婷), who is touted to win big for her acclaimed American road movie Nomadland, has also faced criticism back home after some questioned her loyalty to China. China has spent years “pining for Hollywood accolades,” entertainment magazine Variety said, and state broadcaster China Central Television has shown the awards live or on a delay since 2003. Online platforms in China, the world’s fastest-growing
FEARING THE WORST: High-powered weapons, as well as a hand grenade, were used in fighting between two clans over a land ownership dispute that is expected to continue Police are warning an “all-out war” could erupt in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands Province, after 19 people were killed in tribal violence last week. High-powered weapons, as well as a hand grenade, were used in fighting on Thursday and Friday near a town called Kainantu, resulting in 19 deaths, with many more people unaccounted for and properties destroyed. The fighting, between the Agarabi and Tapo clans, was over a land ownership dispute and broke out just kilometers outside of Kainantu. Police said it is believed that the fighting stopped on Saturday and Sunday as some fighters observed the Sabbath, but they fear