Dutch customs seized more than 1.6 tonnes of cocaine hidden in shipments of bananas, cocoa beans and cement in the port of Rotterdam, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The drugs, with an estimated street value of €127 million, were hidden in three containers that arrived in Europe’s largest port.
“The first container came from Ecuador and was loaded with bananas destined for a company in Barendrecht, near Rotterdam,” prosecutors said.
“The drugs in the second container were found in a load of cocoa beans, also from Ecuador, but which had transited through Colombia and then arrived via Antwerp,” they said.
A third container, loaded with cement bound for Portugal, contained five sports bags full of drugs.
Seizures have soared this year in the port of Rotterdam, now considered one of Europe’s main gateways for drugs, especially cocaine.
Dutch customs authorities said on Tuesday they had confiscated a record 68 tonnes of cocaine this year, up from 49 tonnes in 2020.
The EU’s crime-fighting body warned that the Netherlands and neighbouring Belgium were becoming major hubs for cocaine, especially for consignments from Colombia.
The North Sea coast has now “overtaken the Iberian peninsula as the main entry point for cocaine into Europe”, Europol said in a report in September.
After cannabis, cocaine is the second most popular drug in Western and Central Europe, with an estimated 4.4 million users in the past year, the report said.