Belgium drug seizures overload incinerators — RT World News
Belgian customs officers have seized more cocaine than they can dispose of in a timely manner, officials told local broadcaster VRT News on Saturday. It is estimated that more than 100 tonnes of drugs – valued at around €5 billion – will have been intercepted at the port of Antwerp this year. This comes after a record 90 tonnes was seized in 2021.
“There was a kind of bottleneck because there were so many seizures and also because only one incinerator was in operationsaid Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne. “Also, you cannot burn these batches in bulk, at one time, in large quantities as this will cause problems with the incineration plant filters..” Only 1,000 kg or at most 1,500 kg of drug can be destroyed in one session, he said.
A representative of the FPS Finances, the parent agency of the Belgian customs service, agreed. “Rapid destruction of confiscated assets is an ongoing challengespokesman Francis Adyns told local newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen. “Due to the technical limitation of approved incinerators and environmental standards, we have to use several incinerators.”
While the department managed to secure enough additional capacity to destroy “several tons“more illicit substance, putting a dent in what prosecutor Franky de Keyser called”the mountain of cocaineVan Quickenborne told VRT that his agency only learned on Thursday that this was not enough.
In addition, an appointment must be requested to use the incinerator, explained the minister. “The more cocaine you seize, the more time you need. And there’s a lot of cocaine.” The location of the incinerators would be kept secret so as not to entice criminals to raid the facility.
Van Quickenborne said customs officers were negotiating with Environment Minister Zuhal Demir, who oversees the incinerators, adding that the talks are “is fine.” Demir’s office has contacted the Flanders Public Waste Agency (OVAM), which is also looking for additional incineration capacity, a spokesperson told VRT.
Customs discovered nearly eight tons of cocaine in a single container in the port of Antwerp last month. The drug, worth more than 200 million euros, was concealed in a shipment of bananas from Ecuador. Authorities allowed the delivery to continue to its final destination in the Netherlands, which led to the arrest of four people.
The port of Antwerp was the site of Belgium’s largest ever cocaine seizure in 2020, when five containers of scrap metal from Guyana were found to be concealing 11.5 tonnes of cocaine worth 900 million euros . Police and port officials were among those arrested.
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