Belgium intercepts US$1.06B in cocaine originating from Guyana
– CANU launches investigations, 2 scrap metal dealers in custody
Belgian authorities have intercepted a vessel that allegedly left Guyana in October with a whopping 11.5 tons of cocaine – the largest drug bust ever – the Brussel Times reported on Thursday.
According to media reports coming out of that country, counter-narcotics prosecutors tracked the transatlantic journey of 11.5 tons of cocaine from Guyana on the northeastern coast of South America, and seized it upon its arrival at the Port of Antwerp, Belgium on Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors told Belgian media that this is “the largest overseas drug bust ever worldwide”, with an estimated street value of €900 million. The drug was disguised as scrap metal and placed inside a steel container, which was in turn packed into a sea container and loaded into a transatlantic vessel.
Following the record-breaking drug bust on Wednesday, three persons were arrested, including one person who is facing extradition to Belgium from the Netherlands.
According to the report, the massive load of cocaine left Guyana in late October, and prosecutors were able to track it following the dismantlement of a drug trafficking gang led by a former Belgian counter-narcotics chief, which revealed the existence of tight-knit links between criminal gangs and counter-narcotics and law enforcement officials.
The reports stated that three Police officers, a port manager and a lawyer were among some 20 other criminals arrested as part of an operation targeting the “well-structured” criminal organisation suspected of orchestrating large and “regular” drug shipments from South America to Belgium.
However, the record-breaking shipment was expected by law enforcement officials, as it is suspected it left the port of Guyana after the drug gang’s arrest in Belgium, with drug gangs unable to intercept it once at sea, De Standaard reported.
The dismantlement of the drug gang in late September led to the arrest and indictment of 22 people, with three people still in the Netherlands awaiting extradition.
Meanwhile, Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, James Singh, when contacted, related that two scrap metal dealers are in custody but they are holding out that they are unaware of the drugs. James explained that the two men turned up at CANU Headquarters after they received news that agents were looking for them.
He further noted that investigators have since established that the cocaine was trans-shipped to another vessel. James, however, noted that CANU is in contact with its counterparts in Belgium as the drug enforcement agency continues its investigations.