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"The year is not over yet"

After the record amount of more than 19 tons of cocaine in the previous year, Hamburg customs investigators have seized around six tons of the drug so far this year.

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"The year is not over yet"

After the record amount of more than 19 tons of cocaine in the previous year, Hamburg customs investigators have seized around six tons of the drug so far this year. “But the year is not over yet. We assume that this number will increase further," said the spokesman for the Hamburg Customs Investigation Office, Stephan Meyns. By far the largest amount of drugs was found by the officials at the end of January in a container with bananas from Ecuador: a good 2.6 tons.

The Hamburg customs officers, in consultation with authorities in Peru and the Netherlands, had another delivery of 2.3 tons of the drug transported to Rotterdam. This enabled the police to arrest the alleged organizer of the smuggling in Cologne at the beginning of September. The cocaine was eventually seized.

Two other large shipments of drugs passed through the port of Hamburg unnoticed, but were then discovered in Bavaria and the Czech Republic. Customs officials in Aschaffenburg found more than a ton of cocaine in a container of medical supplies from the Dominican Republic in June. Czech officials seized 840 kilos of the white powder in two supermarkets in north-eastern Bohemia that same month. The drug was hidden in a shipment of bananas from Colombia.

With around nine million containers that are handled in the port of Hamburg every year, it is unavoidable that smuggled goods sometimes pass through, explained Meyns. It is important that the "second line" of drug control worked. Thus, not all drugs that passed through the ports ended up on the black market. The Hamburg Customs Investigation Office is responsible for all container ports on the German North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts.

In February 2021, officials in Hamburg discovered 16 tons of cocaine in containers from Paraguay. It was the largest amount of cocaine ever seized in Europe, it said. The containers were said to contain cans of putty. Regarding the cocaine finds in 2022, Meyns said: "We have noticed that the number of larger seizures has increased significantly."

According to the customs investigation office, the active ingredient content of the cocaine traded on the street has also increased. It is hardly ever stretched at all, the degree of purity is more than 80 percent. The price is still around 50 euros per gram.

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