May: several hotel containers found in Rotterdam port area

May: several hotel containers found in Rotterdam port area

Between 11 May and 29 May, Customs intercepted more than 3,600 kilos of cocaine and more than 2,600 kilos of heroin in the port of Rotterdam. Some of the catches were made after tips came in to the police. Eleven people have been arrested and all are still in custody. On May 11, a sniffer dog struck a container filled with bananas from Colombia. The bananas were on pallets with extra shelves.

Those shelves had been cleverly hollowed out so that blocks of cocaine could be put in them: 34 kilos. The second find was made in a prepared back wall of a container with bananas from the Dominican Republic: 60 kilos.

In the evening on 12 May, security guards saw intruders walking at a site where empty refrigerated containers are stored. Three were arrested near a container. They had tools with them to be able to open the special hatches of the cooling engine. 60 kilograms were found in the container, which was originally loaded with bananas from the Dominican Republic. One of the packages was equipped with a GPS beacon to locate the drugs.

At a large terminal in the port area, other intruders were spotted the same evening. After a search between the containers, two arrests were made. When the Customs search team found a container with a different seal a little later, it was a hit. 62 kilos of cocaine were stored in this container. A so-called hotel container was discovered nearby. That is a container in which collectors can hide for a longer period of time in the hope of smuggling drugs off the site in peace. It was striking that brand-new chainsaws were in this container.

In Roosendaal in Brabant, a container was found with heavy wooden beams that something was not right. An investigation by the HARC team showed that the container in question was in the vicinity of the aforementioned hotel container. Under the beams, the investigative services subsequently found 889 kilos of cocaine. The chainsaws were probably intended to cut the beams to get to the cocaine.

On May 19, a check was carried out around a suspicious container in the port. Behind the doors, the Special Assistance Team of Customs found 20 bags containing 698 kilos of cocaine.

Due to various intrusions, Customs carried out a major check on containers from South American countries on 26 May. A total of 181 containers were searched. In one container from Panama, 11 bags containing a total of 359 kilos of cocaine were found.

A controlled container from Brazil yielded 400 kilograms of cocaine on May 29. Trails and footprints led to a container containing two people, two screw tops and five bags containing a total of 90 kilograms of cocaine. A beacon was found in one of the bags to make it easier to gauge the contraband.

A large shipment of heroin was also intercepted on May 29. The drugs, totaling 2,624 kilograms, were hidden in a container loaded with soap from Sierra Leone. The street value of this lot is more than 78 million euros.

On 17 May a report was made at a container terminal of a refrigerated container that had visibly been tampered with. An investigation revealed that the extractors had probably already struck their blow shortly before. In their haste, they had left behind one kilo of cocaine.

On May 19, a second hotel container was found. This one was empty, but the sniffer dog struck anyway. Near the hotel container was a container with a different seal. The dog wagged its tail, sat down next to it. In the container, on top of dozens of sports bags with a total of 953 kilos of narcotics, were four extractors. All four have been arrested and are still in custody.

The Public Prosecution Service estimates the street value of all parties of drugs together at more than 355 million euros. The HARC team, a collaboration of Customs, FIOD, the Seaport Police and the Public Prosecution Service, is investigating the finds.

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