One Billion Euros Worth Of Cocaine: The Largest Drug Bust In German History

On August 2, the Main Customs Office of the German city of Hamburg announced in a statement that customs officers confiscated 4.5 metric tons of cocaine from a shipping container in mid-July. This is the largest drug bust to ever occur in the history of Germany. According to the statement, the unprecedented amount of cocaine which drug traffickers had attempted to smuggle through the Port of Hamburg would have been worth over one billion euros in the European market for illegal drugs.

Rolf Bösinger, a Finance Ministry official who oversees customs enforcement in Hamburg, hailed the cocaine bust as an “impactful strike against international drug-related crime.” The report explains that Hamburg customs officers identified the shipping container as suspicious, even though official documents claimed that it only contained soybeans. The shipping container came from Montevideo, the capital of the South American nation of Uruguay, and its destination was the Belgian city of Antwerp. When the officers looked inside, they found the cocaine pressed into 4,200 packets which were concealed in 221 black bags. The authorities went on to destroy the illegal cargo.

This outstanding success proves once again how powerfully German customs fights crime. With sophisticated risk analysis, customs succeeds in opening the right containers and extracting illegal goods from the enormous number of containers that pass through the Port of Hamburg every day.

- Rolf Bösinger, German Federal Ministry of Finance

Drug Trafficking In Hamburg, Germany

Earlier this year, a continent-wide study found that Germany is Europe’s biggest consumer of illegal drugs, especially methamphetamine. In 2018, the police in Germany confiscated and destroyed a combination of illegal drugs worth a total of 520 million euros. With over 22 million regular users, marijuana remains the most common illegal drug in Germany and throughout Europe. After heroin, cocaine is the third most popular illicit substance among Europeans. The European market for cocaine is worth over 6 million euros, and Colombian and Italian cartels are most heavily involved in distributing the drug to European consumers.

The city of Hamburg is home to Germany’s largest port and the third largest port in Europe, after the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. For this reason, German authorities vigilantly guard against drug traffickers who plot to use Hamburg as a gateway into Europe for their dangerous products. Additionally, authorities in the United States have helped to cut off the flow of cocaine to European ports. This year, American law enforcement confiscated record-breaking supplies of cocaine on board freight vessels in Philadelphia and New York City, one of which was bound for the Netherlands and the other for Belgium.

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Nathan Yerby

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  • Nathan Yerby is a writer and researcher. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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