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Cocaine worth more than US$120 million discovered inside cocoa box in Rotterdam

The Port of Rotterdam witnessed another drug bust wherein as much as 1,400 kg of cocaine was seized. The seizure comes amid rising concerns that the Netherlands may become a major center for smuggling cocaine in Europe.

The Customs department's drug investigation was publicly disclosed by the Public Prosecution Service's Rotterdam office (OM). The bureau revealed in a statement that €105 million (US$121 million) worth of narcotics was discovered hidden in a container of cocoa on 29 September.

According to the OM, the narcotics originated in Colombia. "The shipment was meant for a firm in France," the statement said, although no arrests have been made yet.

The seizure follows a far larger takedown of more than 4,000 kg of cocaine on 18 September. This white powdered drug, estimated to be worth €301 million (US$348 million), was found during the inspection of a consignment of timber shipped from Suriname.

The latest seizures imply further significance following Europol's announcement in August that the major entry point for cocaine into European markets had switched north to the Netherlands and Belgium.

The Dutch administration has come across increasing evidence that further validates Europol's claims. Over 11,000 kg of cocaine were seized at the Rotterdam Port in July alone.

The problem has also become a new point of conflict for administrative officials across the country, like Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema, who favor tough action against the entire drug cartels. Likewise, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has called for a tougher stance against recreational drug users who fuel the continent's drug supply.

The government has sought to fulfill such demand in the latest budget proposals by approving an additional €434 million (US$502 million), topped off by another €90 million (US$104 million) for the Ministry of Justice and Security particularly drug smuggling, to combat organised crime.

Ankur Kundu

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