Sophie Davant is renewing her relationship with Caroline Margeridon

AFP

Antwerp, more than just a cocaine-trafficking center in Europe

A new record: almost 110 tons of cocaine were seized by the Belgian authorities in 2022 at the port of Antwerp, the first entry route into Europe for this drug sent from Latin America. This annual report was announced on Tuesday in a joint press conference between Belgium and the Netherlands to mark the “intensive cooperation” of the two countries in the fight against this international traffic. Cocaine is shipped mainly from Panama, Colombia and Ecuador. But the gap is growing between the port of Antwerp and Rotterdam (Netherlands), where interceptions of white powder fell last year, to 46.8 tons compared to 72.8 in 2021. On the other hand, Belgium continues to fly from of record to record: the 100-ton mark was surpassed in Antwerp for the first time. Strikes there in 2022 totaled 109.9 tons, compared to 89.5 tons in 2021, customs said. The 2021 figure already marks a 36% year-on-year jump thanks to the amount of information collected from traffickers with access to the Sky ECC encrypted telephone network. -year celebrations usually mark a peak in cocaine consumption. – “Creativity of criminals” -A few weeks before, cartels increased the delivery of white powder to prepare this “White Christmas”, a colorful expression Kristian Vanderwaeren, general administrator of customs, The The latter also insisted on the “creativity of criminal organizations” to meet the growing demand for cocaine, to which the authorities must adapt. Belgium intends to recruit 108 additional customs officers and new scanning equipment for 70 million euros to strengthen its controls. Part of the growing gap between The two large adjacent ports can be explained in particular by the configuration of the area, according to Ms Angelici The Rotterdam platform, where the container terminals are less dispersed, is “easier to monitor” than Antwerp, he told AFP. The enhanced security of the Dutch site may also deter some criminals. Last year, “we increased our controls, our investigations and made more arrests”, assured Hugo Hillenaar, of the prosecutor’s office in Rotterdam, during a presentation organized in parallel in Antwerp. – Huge financial stakes -Concrete example of bilateral cooperation: groups of Dutch divers intervened in the port of Antwerp to examine possible hiding places in the hulls of ships under the waterline.” in Antwerp can moving the two ports forward. The exchange of information and expertise is the beating heart of our cooperation “, underlined the Belgian Minister of Finance. Vincent Van Peteghem, who welcomed the Dutch State Secretary for Customs Aukje de Vries in a customs warehouse in Beveren, near Antwerp. , an 11-year-old girl was killed and three members of her family were injured in Antwerp, when the house they lived in was targeted by gunfire. .Mayor Bart De Wever then made the link to “a war on drugs” that has been fighting rival gangs in his city for months. A nuanced version on Tuesday of the prosecution assured that “the addressed address has not been known so far for criminal offenses”. Fear between different families fighting traffic and its big financial stakes. In Rotterdam, Hugo Hillenaar estimates that the 50 tons of cocaine seized is equivalent to depriving street vendors of the recipe of “about 3.5 billion dollars”.mad-jhe/jca/prh

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