The Malta Independent 19 June 2021, Saturday

Record breaking 740kg of cocaine intercepted by Malta Customs at the Freeport

Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 20:08 Last update: about 10 days ago

Malta Customs has, once again, succeeded in blocking a huge amount of cocaine from reaching the streets.

In a long operation, that spanned from Monday morning till late Tuesday afternoon, Customs Officials, stationed at the Freeport Scanning facility, intercepted and seized a record breaking 740 kg of cocaine hidden in a 40ft reefer container. Due to high purity, the street value estimated between 90 and 100 million euro

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The container was selected by the Customs Container Monitoring Unit following a meticulous risk assessment on containers transiting through the Freeport. The container was then screened by the officials stationed at the scanning facility and flagged some discrepancies in scan.

The cargo was en-route from Ecuador to Slovenia with a refrigerated payload of 1,080 boxes of bananas. The Officials opened the reefer and started physically inspecting all boxes and, subsequently, elevated 740 packets of a white substance hidden in 37 boxes which gave a positive indication for high purity cocaine. 

The packets carried a net weight of 1 kg each and were concealed within the boxes of fruit. However, the difference in density and consistency was immediately flagged by the scanning officials.

Late last year, in a similar bust, the Customs Department made a record breaking haul of 510 packages, totalling at 612 kg of cocaine, worth 70 million euro, hidden in pallets carrying cooking oil.

This latest seizure is historical both in its size and in its street value.

The Customs Department has been breaking its cocaine seizure records, year on year, with 2019 recording a total of 750 kg (in 13 separate seizures), 2020: 612 kg (in 1 seizure) and in the first half of this year: 740 kg (in 1 seizure).

The case was handed over to the Malta Police Force and duty Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo is leading the inquiry. 

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