Coronavirus boosted cocaine traffic in March says Belgium
Brussels: South American drug kingpins attempted to flood Europe with cocaine last month in hopes of getting ahead of the coronavirus shutdown that has closed one of the trade’s biggest markets, a top Belgian official said on Wednesday.
The theory is from Belgium’s top customs official, Kristian Vanderwaeren, after a series of extraordinary seizures in a country considered Europe’s main import hub of cocaine through the sprawling port of Antwerp.
"In recent days there has been a substantial increase in seizures,” Vanderwaeren, Belgium’s customs administrator general, told AFP.
Whether by air or ocean, cocaine moved in massive quantities between South America and Belgium, as narco-dealers seized a window of opportunity before the slowdown in travel and trade in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
"The mafia in South America organised itself and placed as much product as possible in containers, knowing that shipping traffic to Europe will decrease in the coming months,” said Vanderwaeren.
At the port of Antwerp, a total of more than 1.6 tonnes of cocaine was intercepted in just three seizures.
"Three times the jackpot,” said Vanderwaeren as seizures of 300 and 700 kg of cocaine are rare so many months from the summer and New Year peaks of consumption in Europe. – AFP