Dutch authorities have seized around 8,000 kilograms (8 tons) of cocaine in Rotterdam, prosecutors announced on Thursday.
The cocaine is valued at an estimated €600 million ($661 million).
This was the biggest haul ever recorded at the port. The last biggest was a 4,500-kilogram haul made in 2020.
Another major seizure was made in 2021, when 3,600 kilograms of the drug was found.
The drugs were discovered in July, but the find was only announced on Thursday.
The cocaine was hidden in a container alongside bananas on a ship that had arrived from Ecuador.
Over 8,000 packets of the drug were discovered in the containers.
“On July 13, customs carried out the largest ever drug seizure in the port of Rotterdam,” prosecutors said. “A total of 8,064 one-kilo packets of cocaine were extracted from twelve pallets of bananas.
“Once again we have succeeded… in dealing a serious blow to the port’s drug traffickers,” Rotterdam Customs Director Peter van Buijtenen said. He called the haul “enormous.”
Rotterdam a major center for drug trafficking
Dutch customs said that such large loads of cocaine are becoming rarer, with most recent hauls being substantially smaller than that reported on Thursday.
In 2022, about 47,000 kilograms of narcotics were seized in Rotterdam. Investigators say only around 50-60% of drugs smuggled through Rotterdam are discovered.
Inn the first half of 2023, Dutch customs seized about 29,702 kilograms of drugs, which is more than in the same period last year (a little over 22,000 kilograms).
The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain are the top three European countries for illegal cocaine imports. Most of the drug is shipped out from Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador.
Thursday’s announcement comes a day after Fernando Villavicencio, a leading presidential candidate in Ecuador, was shot dead at a campaign rally. He had earlier reported threats against him and his team, allegedly made by a drug-trafficking gang.
sdi/wmr (dpa, AFP)