Belgian authorities have announced yet another record cocaine haul after customs officials at Antwerp’s port intercepted nearly 10 tonnes of the drug, worth an estimated 1.4 billion Euros ($2.2 billion).
The illicit shipment was found in a cargo of blue leather during the Easter long weekend.
It took the overall volume of cocaine seized in Belgium to more than 25 tonnes in the last six weeks.
Prosecutors claim that police took advantage of the breach of an encrypted messaging network used by suspects.
Belgian police detained 48 people last month during an operation involving over 1,500 officers and aimed at organized drug trafficking.
On Tuesday, four more arrests were made, including suspects from the finance ministry, Antwerp city services, and the port.
They were charged with gang membership, extortion, and abuse of confidence, according to the prosecutor’s office.
During a two-year investigation, Belgian prosecutors say they broke the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC and intercepted a billion messages.
“During a judicial investigation into a potential service criminal organisation suspected of knowingly providing encrypted telephones to the criminal environment, police specialists managed to crack the encrypted messages from Sky ECC,” Belgian Police said in a statement.
“This data provides elements in current files, but also opened up new criminal offenses.
“The international smuggling of cocaine batches plays a prominent role in intercepted reports.”
Antwerp, Belgium’s port city, is one of Europe’s largest entry ports for cocaine, with thousands of shipping containers arriving every day.
Violence has recently erupted in the city as a result of human trafficking, including gun battles and grenade attacks.
Source: ABC World News