The nation ended up serving as a route into Europe for illicit substances. 110 tons of cocaine were seized in 2022, a record.
Coke from South and Central America used to enter Europe through Spain, but those days are gone.
That gateway has been shifting north for years, primarily to Belgian and Dutch ports, as a result of increased control in Spanish ports and the Galician gangs’ diminished clout in the illicit drug market.
The numbers for 2022 show an exceptional resurgence, despite years of warnings from the European Union’s specialized office.
Antwerp is already a major entry point for cocaine into Europe, and Belgium became the first European nation to ever seize more than 100 tons of cocaine last year.
The 110 tons that were captured last year are three times as much as the 52.5 that the Dutch security services were able to intercept.
Antwerp, the second-largest port in Europe, is a drug highway into Europe, where there has never been such an abundance of cocaine available for sale at such affordable costs.
Since they were only 10 tons a year, the rise in cocaine seizures has continued to rise. The graph, which was released by the Belgian press, shows an upward, regular arrow that practically grows by 10 tons annually. Nearly half of the cocaine that enters Europe is sent to Belgium.
The European Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction said last year that 213 tons of cocaine had been intercepted throughout the European Union in 2020, of which 70 had been in Belgium. This organization discloses its figures after national police do.
Over 110 tons of drugs have been captured as a result of the growth in 2021 and 2022. More than 75% of the cocaine found in Europe is seized in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain.
Every day, the port transports so many containers that it is impossible to keep track of them all.
Most of the cocaine imported is concealed in fruit shipments from Latin America. The fact that more narcotics are being imported when they seize more drugs is not kept a secret by the authorities. Belgium is attempting to prevent the arrival of cocaine.
Additionally, the situation in the Netherlands is troubling. Dutch divers have been searching the hulls of alleged ships since last year in an effort to locate subsurface hiding places that have eluded inspection.
Also promising more resources is Belgium. Its officials declared on Tuesday that they would add more than a hundred customs officers to their team who are in charge of looking for drugs, and that new technology would be used to check an increasing number of containers. This year, just material will cost more than 70 million euros.
Tsunami of drug use
Some activities demonstrate the certainty with which the major drug gangs appear to believe they can get beyond Antwerp’s regulations.
More than six tons of cocaine from Suriname were intercepted by Belgian customs checkpoints last October during a single operation. The urgency of the crisis is not hidden by the Belgian government, which refers to a “tsunami” of drugs or claims that cocaine is “flooded” into the nation’s major port.
An upsurge in violence is being caused by the increased introduction of cocaine.
The Minister of Justice and his family were forced to leave their home because the secret services thought he would be the target of an attack. Retaliation shootings and efforts to steal goods amongst mafias are growing more common.