German and Belgian authorities have joined forces in blocking the entry of worth billions of euros of cocaine into Europe.
According to a report by Wanted in Europe, the joint operation was believed to be the largest cocaine smuggling so far, having seized combined 23 metric tons of cocaine.
The operation came after receiving a tip from an investigator from the Netherlands, resulting in custom officers checking three containers allegedly declared as construction putty in Hamburg.
The was said to have run for more than a week, leading to the arrest of a 28-year-old man from Vlaardingen, the Netherlands who was supposed to receive the shipments.
The man was said to be the managing director of the import company.
During the course of the probe, several business premises across Rotterdam and its nearby areas were also subjected to a search warrant.
Wanted in Europe said as much as 16,174 kilograms (kg) of cocaine were seized concealed in 1,728 cans of construction putty.
Police traced the containers back to Paraguay, having made stops in Tangier, Morocco, and Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Guided by the new find, Dutch authorities began with an investigation into the recipient of the shipment and led to 11 more containers from Panama to Antwerp blocked. The shipments allegedly contained squid, mackerel, pineapple, and wood.
Authorities were able to confiscate 7,200 kg worth of cocaine in one of the containers allegedly carrying wooden blocks in Antwerp, Belgium.
The 16 tonnes of cocaine nabbed in Germany marked a new record for EU-bound cocaine seizures. It was also said to be among the largest single drug busts across the globe.
German authorities received praise for the exemplary cooperation between German customs and their European partner authorities. Custom officers in Hamburg handle over eight million containers annually.
In a Twitter post, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) congratulated the effort of their colleagues while pointing out how the security of EU citizens remained their top priority.
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