BRUSSELS: Police found a whopping tonne of cocaine – valued at £32m – floating just off the coast of Belgium.
Belgian maritime police hauled in 16 massive containers that had been dropped in the sea from a ship by smugglers earlier this week.
The daily Het Nieuwsblad reported the seized drugs have a street value of 50 million euros.
Officers were forced to call in a tugboat with a crane in order to fish all the packets out of the North Sea, 15 miles from Ostend.
Dumping the drugs at sea, heading to port and then returning to fish out the stash is being increasingly used by traffickers keen to avoid detection.
As it doesn’t involve two boats making a renezvous at sea, it’s harder for authorities to detect. As the chance of getting caught in the ports increases, criminals are trying out other, sometimes novel, methods in order to avoid the classic controls.
More and more traffickers are trying it and this is a growing phenomenon with us,” Belgian magistrate Ken Witpas said.
Former undercover French customs officer Marc Fiévet is an expert in the methods used by international drug rings.He told Vice News: “It was first mastered by British drug traffickers.
They would sometimes even leave a man out at sea in a wetsuit, with a mini-beacon, to collect the goods.
Today they’re probably using the same beacons that fishermen use to locate their lobster traps.”
In January a young mum was arrested amid claims she tried to smuggle a £50,000 cocaine haul into Spain by hiding it among her hair extensions and wig.