Even with nearly two months left to go in the year, the Port of Rotterdam this year has already surpassed the record amount of cocaine caught there in 2018, according to an investigation by De Telegraaf. Some 23 tons of cocaine was intercepted at the largest port in Europe, a 28 percent increase over the 18 tons captured during all of last year.
The Rotterdam office of the Public Prosecution Service (OM) confirmed this year's drug trafficking spike, the newspaper said. More batches of the drug were seized en route to Rotterdam, like at ports in Belgium. Rotterdam's mayor was pushing for even closer cooperation by staffing Dutch investigators to work alongside officials in Central and South America.
Just this past Saturday police found 300 kilograms of cocaine in a car on the Maasvlakte near the port. The drugs came from a sea container sent to Rotterdam from Brazil, police said in a statement.
Over 1,500 kilograms of cocaine was seized in separate banana shipments last month. In both cases the cargo was destined for Vlissingen, with an origin of Ecuador.
A source close to the newspaper expressed concern over the rapid hiring of new customs officials set to work at the port as a precautionary measure against Brexit. New officers previously had to work for three years in other customs checkpoints, follow a four-month course in surveillance techniques, and a six-month traineeship at the port before being staffed there.