BERLIN (AP) — German customs officials have found more than 16 metric tons of cocaine in containers that arrived in Hamburg from Paraguay, authorities said Wednesday. Another large shipment of cocaine was seized in Belgium and a suspect arrested in the Netherlands.
The Hamburg customs office described the find in the German port as the biggest quantity of cocaine ever seized in Europe and one of the biggest single seizures worldwide.
The drugs were found in a search on Feb. 12 of five containers from Paraguay that had been flagged as suspect in a risk analysis by several European customs authorities, the Hamburg office said. They had detected “clear irregularities" in three containers, which were loaded with putty in tin cans but appeared also to contain other wares.
Customs officers found the cocaine hidden in more than 1,700 cans.
Over the following days, German and Dutch authorities investigated further and another 7.2 metric tons of cocaine were seized Sunday in the Belgian port of Antwerp.
The total haul in Hamburg and Antwerp — more than 23 tons — would have had a street value of “several billion euros,” according to the Hamburg customs office.
On Wednesday, Dutch authorities arrested a 28-year-old man from the town of Vlaardingen who is suspected of being responsible for the shipments.