August 17, 2023

Eight tons of cocaine found in Maersk container at Rotterdam

Dutch customs have recently made the largest-ever drug bust in the Port of Rotterdam by seizing eight tons of cocaine from a container aboard a Maersk containership.

According to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, the drugs represent an “enormous” street value of €600m ($653m).

The container with more than eight tonnes of cocaine came from Ecuador and arrived in Rotterdam via Panama hidden in a consignment of bananas.

When the bust was made last week, Dutch customs did not reveal the company or the ship on which the drugs were found. Maersk confirmed to Danish media outlet Finans that the cocaine was shipped to the Netherlands in one of its containers.

In total, 8,064 one-kilo packages of cocaine were found in 12 pallets of bananas. Customs officers found the packages during a check with drug detection dogs and a container scan. The case is under investigation and the drugs have been destroyed.

This bust was nearly twice the size of the 4.6 tons of cocaine found in 2005 and much larger than the current Dutch record seizure of 3.8 tons of cocaine in 2021. In the first six months of this year, the Netherlands seized 29.7 tons of cocaine. 

Although this is a record bust in the Port of Rotterdam and is 23 times more cocaine in one catch than was seized in Maersk’s home country of Denmark all last year, it is eclipsed by the record $1.3bn, 20-tonne cocaine seizure from an MSC containership in the Port of Philadelphia in 2019. The drugs were found on the 9,962 teu box ship MSC Gayane.