By Jack Guy, CNN – Europe/Middle East/Africa Cocaine disguised as charcoal with a street value of up to 35 million euros ($41.4 million) was recovered in a combined operation by Irish and Dutch officials.
According to a news release from the Garda Siochana, Ireland’s national police and security force, the drugs were discovered inside two shipping containers from South America that arrived at the port of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, as part of what Irish authorities suspect was an attempt to import up to half a ton of cocaine to Ireland.
2,000 bags of charcoal were contained within the canisters.
Several of the packets were discovered to contain cocaine thanks to the use of an X-ray scanner and police sniffing dogs.
The presence of cocaine was later confirmed by Forensic Science Ireland (FSI), but “it will take a number of days, if not longer, for FSI to separate the cocaine from the product within which it is contained,” according to the press statement.
According to authorities, if the entire consignment of cocaine is located, it might have a street worth of up to 35 million euros ($41.5 million).
The containers were reportedly delivered to the Rotterdam port a few weeks ago.
According to the press release, arrests are likely in the near future as part of an ongoing investigation by the Garda National Narcotics and Organized Crime Bureau.
“This is a important milestone in the Garda Siochana’s work to disrupt and destroy organized crime groups accused of bringing cocaine and other drugs into Ireland,” said Garda Siochana assistant commissioner John ODriscoll.
ODriscoll stressed the operation’s “major international component” and the “importance of cooperation inside the law enforcement community within Europe and beyond,” as well as the “importance of cooperation within the law enforcement community within Europe and further afield,” according to Michael OSullivan, head of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre, which coordinates anti-drug trafficking operations by seven European Union countries, including Ireland.
A similar seizure of 862 kilos (1,900 pounds) of cocaine disguised as charcoal was made by Spain’s national police a few weeks ago.
Last month, the police said a “complex chemical technique” was employed to give the drugs “a very similar form and color” to charcoal while also “eliminating the characteristic smell of cocaine.”
All intellectual property rights are reserved.