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The two major cities ravaged by drug traffickers smuggling cocaine via sea and air

Two European cities are being ravaged by drug gangs smuggling cocaine and other drugs via air and sea.

Brussels and Liege in Belgium have been plagued by incidents of illegal drugs being found at their ports and airports with one incident seeing more than a tonne of cocaine accidentally discovered in a quay at the port of Liege.

Authorities said the incident, which took place in 2020, could have been the result of a logistical error or poor organisation from gangs or mean that “contaminated” containers had arrived in the region.

Now police are concerned that inland ports are being used for drug trafficking rather than dry ports such as Belgium’s Athus, which has previously attracted attention from officials looking to thwart drug gangs.

One unnamed customs official told Belgian broadcaster, RTBF: “At the moment, no specific research is being carried out at these ports. So we can’t find anything. Does this mean that nothing is happening or will happen in the future? There’s plenty of room for doubt.”

Despite the incident in 2020, there are no other court cases in progress that mention the port of Liege as a transit point for drug trafficking activities.

Instead authorities are focusing their attention on Liege Airport with reports gangs are importing cocaine by plane from South America, while others are transporting chemicals from China to manufacture synthetic drugs.

A Liege police officer told RTBF: “Given the intelligence available and our limited resources, we are currently giving priority to the airport.”

But the officer told the broadcaster that police would be monitoring the port saying “common sense dictates” Belgian cops should be proactive.

Following the seizure of cocaine in Liege a defendant in the case mentioned that access to Brussels by water was also being considered by drug gangs.

The man was said to have thought of buying a boat to transport cocaine and on an encrypted messaging service he said that with the vessel “we could even get back to Brussels or Ostend”.

But so far the Port of Brussels says it has not found any significant quantities of drugs.

Port of Brussels Captain Jerry Vanhemelen said: “So far, we haven’t seized any impressive quantities of drugs. There is a plan to combat drug trafficking, in which the port is involved.

“Over the past year, contacts have been established with the National Drugs Commission and the federal police.”

But a Belgian police officer told RTBF the port had to be prepared for the arrival of large gangs.

He said: “The question is not whether the Port of Brussels will one day be used by traffickers, but when.

“Today, there is little security awareness around the port. We need to step up vigilance.”


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