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Montevideo, October 3rd 2023 - 01:40 UTC



Narcotics shipments from Mercosur to Europe on the rise

Friday, August 5th 2022 - 08:08 UTC
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Belgian customs intercepted a container with rice from Paraguay, (and cocaine)  on 12 June and informed the Dutch police Belgian customs intercepted a container with rice from Paraguay, (and cocaine) on 12 June and informed the Dutch police

A shipment of 5,2 tons of cocaine bound for the Netherlands was seized in June, the Dutch police reported. An Uruguayan company involved in the shipment of 4,5 tons of cocaine was definitively closed by the government. An attempt to introduce cocaine in coffee bags to Europe was caught in Brazil, as well as another intended shipment of 4,5 tons of cocaine destined for Antwerp.

Belgian customs intercepted the container, which was filled with rice from Paraguay, on 12 June and informed the Dutch police. The drugs had an estimated street value of over €250 million.

Nearly 80% of the drugs that reach the port of Antwerp are destined for the Netherlands, according to the police. Therefore, Belgium and the Netherlands have recently set up a task force to jointly combat cocaine smuggling and drug trafficking from the port.

The task force has already made ten arrests in two months, and other large shipments of drugs have also been seized.

In another incident, joint action by Brazil’s Federal Revenue Service and the Federal Police resulted in the seizure of 605 kg of cocaine in the Port of Santos, São Paulo state, on August 02. The drug was hidden in a coffee shipment destined for Hamburg, Germany.

The container was selected for verification by the Federal Revenue through risk analysis criteria and inspection by scanning images.

After opening the cargo and removing the first rows of bags, which were regularly declared, other apparently tampered sacks were found. Among them were large plastic bags with cocaine inside.

The 605 kg of drugs were seized after inspection by the federal police, which is investigating the case. There is no information about prisoners. This was the second cocaine bust this week in Santos. This week, 328 kg of cocaine discovered in a shipment of citrus peels destined for Antwerp, Belgium. The two seizures totaled 933 kilos.

Meantime in Montevideo the Ministry of Economy and Finance definitively closed the export company Camelia Agraria for its involvement in shipping 4,5tons of cocaine in soy containers in 2019.

“Since exporters are responsible for Customs operations in the name of the company, Camelia Agraria is definitively closed and can no longer operate”, read the official resolution.
The operation dates from 2019 when this company tried to ship to Togo, Africa several containers with soy flour and the hidden cocaine. The investigation led to an estancia in Soriano where another 1,4 tons were discovered.

The head of the company was heavily indebted and was considered by banks to have fallen into delinquency, with no creditors and even owing the rent of the camp. At the moment it was considered the largest “catch” in the history of Uruguay.

But later that same year, Germany reported a container which arrived in Hamburg with another 4,5 tons of cocaine allegedly shipped from Uruguay. Final destination was Antwerp and the drug was smuggled in sports bags. The vessel involved allegedly had called in several Brazilian ports before reaching Europe.

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