18 January 2024, by Emily Proctor
The Dutch customs agency seized around 60.000 kilograms of cocaine from locations in different Dutch cities in 2023. The authorities managed to stop 9.000 more kilograms of the illegal substance from making its way into the country than in 2022.
Thousands of kilos of cocaine travelled from Ecuador to Rotterdam
Many of the seizures were made at the ports of Rotterdam and Vlissingen, particularly those which were larger shipments. Here, the authorities also made the largest single cocaine bust ever in the Netherlands, when a shipment of 8.000 kilograms of cocaine was discovered travelling from Ecuador to Rotterdam, via Panama.
The substance was most often found concealed in the cooling motor of shipping containers. Customs also found drugs among the goods that were being shipped, such as stuffed inside or underneath legitimately shipped items for removal at a later moment.
Growing number of cocaine seizures at Dutch airport
In 2023 there was also a higher number of cocaine seizures made at Dutch airports. In 2022, 1.300 kilograms of cocaine was intercepted at Dutch airports, but in 2023 that number rose to 2.250 kilograms. The Netherlands has been able to screen more shipments and arrivals for suspected cocaine smuggling, and has worked closely with law enforcement in countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica and Panama to monitor the movement of illegal goods.
In Rotterdam, the customs authorities scanned 40 percent more containers in 2023 than in 2022, and police made a strong effort to stay ahead of criminals. They have also harnessed new technology, such as using underwater scooters and drones to intercept smugglers.