In this peak year of a raging and deadly viral pandemic, Belgian authorities were on secret notice, waiting for weeks, the Guyana scrap metal shipments that came in five separate containers aboard a loaded transoceanic ship.
But even the most experienced officers were amazed at what was finally discovered behind the rusting mass of wheels, axles and gears that sprang out, from a suspicious crate, onto the hard paving of Antwerp’s sparse port one a cold, gray day, in late October.
Carefully wrapped in parts, a huge steel box fluttered, its six sides welded closed. It fit so cozy in the ordinary 20-foot long red carrier container, the only other place left at the top. A deliberate jam within that dark gap was an ugly mix of this country’s metallic detritus thrown together in countless unknown pieces torn from closed factories, damaged vehicles and broken buildings.
In what is called a “Trojan horse” trick usually used by terrorists and named after the famous Greek underwater, the sealed inner crate, of about 1000 cubic feet or 33 cubic meters in volume, while cut it open, revealed covered columns. of hundreds of neatly wrapped silver packages stacked to the ceiling. Large blue plastic bales wrapped in colored tape brought the estimated total to 11.5 tonnes / tonne of historical equivalent to over 25 000 lbs or 11,500 kilograms (kg) of high quality cocaine.
Ten days later the “absolute maximum holding” was publicly announced by the Belgian Federal Police, following separate coordinated investigations. They stated in a tweet that “so much cocaine has never been found in one sea container.” Priced at a conservative estimate of € 450M or US $ 530M, but double that when it was cut for the streets, the unprecedented bust was the latest advance by the country’s Customs department in its 2020 fits of 54,543 kg cocaine, compared to last year’s total. totaling 61.8 tons or 61,800 kg. A gram of pure cocaine sells in northern Europe for about € 100.
About 90 percent of the world’s cargo is transported in these ubiquitous maritime containers, but on average, due to the large number, only two percent are physically inspected by customs officials, make it an ideal smuggling option. The “Trojan horse” container was allegedly pre-checked and scanned at Georgetown Port, as were the four others sent across the Atlantic Ocean by local scrap metal dealer and documented shipper Marlon Formerly Primo of Atlantic Ville, East Coast Demerara, continues. is on the run and is still missing, having repeatedly failed to receive official security assurances.
Mr Primo, a likeable little fellow with a big smile, enjoyed a bit of flash, so he publicly played in the style of his good countrymen, the visible success of his small-time craft, wearing a pair of thick gold rings and his favorite protective necklace in the style of European plaid crosses. the middle ages.
Yet, while knowing the dangers, it is thought to be another ready-made transport vehicle through which Guyana’s big-time players operated, ensuring that only one percent of all transport containers arriving in Antwerp are currently being screened. While some top brass would like to scan all incoming containers, to prevent the increasing flow of cocaine entering the country, but without the spread and technological support, it suppose their Guyanese counterpart has the opposite perennial problem, with no similar major drug discovery here. at any of the numerous cargo containers or ships checked to leave Port Georgetown. Unusually, scanners have stayed down, and others who worked too well have secretly led to deleted images, no arrests and more questions than all the seasons of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” games show.
Just last August, researchers in Hamburg discovered over € 300M worth of cocaine in a container of fine Berbice rice sent by the leading Guyana producer, that local authorities were later convenient to risk when they were being transported somewhere else, in this case the Dominican Republic. .
Antwerp is Europe’s second-largest port after Rotterdam in the Netherlands, but it remains the continent’s most popular cocaine port, thanks to less automated features and close trade links with South America. There is no other port in the northern continent as yet inland, and this central location offers fast and cheap connections via waterways, railways and roads. Contains about 195 ships daily, and is known for its high container handling rate, with 40 movements per crane per hour. Port stats indicate that Antwerp handled only 8.7M tonnes of metal products last year, as Europe’s leading cutting port, coming on for steel and fruit, and as the world’s largest for coffee storage.
In many ways, containers are a dreamy smuggling option, enabling traders to transport large quantities of drugs quickly and easily. Compromising law enforcement and other figures are also helping to make fast and high-pressure ports like Antwerp irresistible to traders with illicit drugs slipped into all kinds of cargoes. While the risks are high, collusion workers can earn € 75,000 to € 125,000 euros (US $ 85,000 to US $ 142,000) for every load of drugs they help move, says a Dutch morning newspaper Of Volkskrant.
However, the Guyanese attempt to hide the “Trojan-horse” tribe failed this time, not because of any suggestions of the end of South America, notorious for widespread corruption and the absence of sweeping accountability of the high and mighty including threatened officials . and rich drug lords. Late last year, the Belgians launched an investigation into the criminal network behind the “Trojan horse” loads following the seizure of 2,800 kg of cocaine in a container in South America bound for Maasmechelen village home, in the province Limburg, from a prominent crime group group, the Aquinos with connections to the neighboring Netherlands.
This October, the Federal Prosecutor’s office announced at a press conference that the structured, international criminal network that was able to transport large quantities of regular cocaine from South America with the help of dishonest Belgian lawmakers will break down. There seemed to be high class participation including from a disgraced former anti-narcotics boss, media reports said. A total of 3.5 tonnes of cocaine was seized and € 2M (US $ 2.3M) of which € 1.3m was in cash. Authorities also seized weapons, some 40 vehicles and stocks worth € 62,000, in 54 raids in Belgium, and over a dozen searches in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. Prosecutors revealed that 29 people had been arrested, charged with importing drugs, laundering money and participating in a criminal organization. Supported by the European Union (EU) criminal justice cooperation agency, Eurojust, the investigation established that the network had successfully imported at least 10 loads of 650kg of cocaine each, with an estimated street value of around € 325M.
During the probe, researchers learned about the container ship already en route from Guyana to the Belgian port, Zeebrugge. Upon arrival, the five containers were transferred and shipped by boat to Antwerp for inspection.
The Belgian federal prosecutor, Frédéric van Leeuw, emphasized how much drug trafficking was permeating modern society, stating, “It is very worrying to see how criminals can get involved in the highest circles and try to make the legal world dirty with crime money. ”
“The quantity seized may seem huge, but it is infinitely small compared to what goes through it,” Van Leeuw noted, noting that “Cocaine is not just imported. ” He warned, “Criminal organizations also house themselves in our accountants, bringing together their violent and ruthless methods. We have seen what led to this in South America (provinces). ”Given Guyana’s recent bloody and violent criminal past, when suspicious and known dealers were openly gunned down by extinct rivals who were never caught, we have to wonder where they went and our lessons, and why that the powerful organization is only looking for poor Marlon.
ID likes to trade drugs to the bubonic plague when red and black crosses were fitted on the doors and walls of infected homes, often with the words “Lord have mercy on us.