German customs discovered 4.5 tons of cocaine with a street value of approximately one billion euros (1.11 billion U.S. dollars) on a container ship in the port of Hamburg, the Hamburg main customs office announced on Friday.
This “enormous quantity” represented the largest single cocaine seizure in Germany, according to the Hamburg customs office.
“This outstanding success proves once again how effectively German customs fights crime,” emphasized Rolf Boesinger, state secretary in the German Ministry of Finance responsible for customs.
The drugs were discovered about two weeks ago by customs officers during a check following a risk analysis of a suspicious container travelling from Uruguay, destined for Antwerp in Belgium, according to the Hamburg customs office.
When German customs officers opened the container, which, according to the ship’s manifesto, was loaded with soybeans, officers discovered over 4,200 packages of pressed cocaine hidden in 211 sports bags, the Hamburg authorities noted.
“With its sophisticated risk analysis, customs is able to open the right containers from the enormous number of containers that pass through the port of Hamburg every day and fish out illegal goods,” said Boesinger, German state secretary for customs.
Back in 2017, three individual seizures by the main customs office in Hamburg had removed around 3.8 tons of cocaine from circulation, according to the German customs office.
The 4.5 tons of cocaine seized two weeks ago had already been destroyed under strict secrecy and extensive security precautions, the German customs office noted.
The main customs office in Hamburg stated that it was conducting further investigations, “especially into the clients,” on behalf of the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office.