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Europe’s largest-ever cocaine bust is worth billions

The bust is also being hailed as one of the largest single seizures in the world.
Billions of dollars’ worth of drugs have been seized in Europe’s largest-ever cocaine bust. The bust is being hailed as one of the largest single seizures in the world.
Billions of dollars’ worth of drugs have been seized in Europe’s largest-ever cocaine bust. The bust is being hailed as one of the largest single seizures in the world. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Feb. 24
Updated Feb. 24

Billions of dollars’ worth of drugs have been seized in Europe’s largest-ever cocaine bust.

More than 50,700 pounds of cocaine were seized by German and Belgian authorities in the operation, which spanned over a week, CNN reports.

The bust is also being hailed as one of the largest single seizures in the world.

The shipment was addressed to a 28-year-old Dutch man who was taken into custody Wednesday, according to Dutch authorities.

Customs officers in Hamburg, Germany, after receiving a tip from their Dutch colleagues, found 35,658 pounds of the drug hidden in over 1,700 cans of construction putty, German Customs Investigation head Rene Matschke told the outlet.

The officers found the drugs Feb. 12 in a trio of containers supposedly only full of the putty. Separating the sticky substance from the drug, Matschke noted, was “pretty disgusting.”

Dutch authorities then started investigating the recipient of the shipment, discovering 11 containers heading to Antwerp, Belgium, from Panama. These containers supposedly held mackerel, pineapple, squid and wood.

On Saturday, Belgian authorities discovered another 15,873 pounds of cocaine in the container transporting wood, according to police in the Netherlands.

“Never before has so much cocaine been intercepted at once,” the Dutch police said in a statement.

“With this blow against organized narcotics crime — also thanks to the exemplary cooperation with European partner authorities — German Customs has once again impressively demonstrated its clout,” said Rolf Bosinger, state secretary in Germany’s Federal Ministry of Finance.