Belgium Says It Needs Even More Incinerators To Destroy Seized Cocaine

Authorities have seized a record amount of blow this year.

A record amount of cocaine seized by law enforcement in Belgium has the government in the market for some additional incinerators. 

Agence France-Presse reports that authorities there have “seized so much cocaine from smugglers operating through the port of Antwerp that it needs more incinerator space to destroy it.” 

“There’s a problem with incinerator capacity,” Belgian customs service spokesperson Francis Adyns told Agence France-Press, saying that the government has “a structural solution is on the way.”

According to Agence France-Presse, “Belgian authorities are on course to seize more than 100 tonnes in 2022, a new record after 89.5 tonnes was seized last year.”

Adyns told Euronews this week that the “main issue for the customs administration is to destroy all as quickly as possible all the cocaine.”

“If we have a huge drug bust, in terms of 5 to 8 tonnes, not everything can be immediately destroyed because of the capacity of the incinerators and in terms of environmental restrictions on the destruction of large amounts of drugs,” Adyns told the outlet. “But in the meantime, agreements were made with the incinerators who will provide us with more capacity to incinerate them.”

According to Euronews, “details of the plans to incinerate it and the schedule of incinerations are being kept secret due to fears that criminal organisations could now strike at those locations in an attempt to recover some of the seized narcotics.”

“We have to deal with a lot of money (in terms of its street value),” Adyns said. “The cost of the price on the street of a gramme of cocaine is about €50. So one can imagine if we have seized a few tonnes, what amount that represents. Due to these organisations that are not afraid of using violence, as we’ve seen in the Netherlands, and the large amount of money that is at stake, one can imagine that there is an enormous issue when it comes to the security (of the operation and) of our agents.” 

According to Euronews, Antwerp prosecutor Franky De Keyser in October described the seized contraband as a “mountain of cocaine.” 

The Brussels Times reports that “so much cocaine is being seized at the port of Antwerp that the confiscated drugs have to be stored at Customs.”

“That could give drug gangs ideas, prompting them, for example, to raid the customs warehouses … The approved incineration plants are not getting the seized cocaine processed,” according to the Brussels Times. “Antwerp prosecutor Franky De Keyser raised the alarm with Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne a few weeks ago. Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever also knocked on Van Quickenborne’s door for the same reason. The offices of Van Quickenborne and De Wever said a solution was being sought jointly. The Public Waste Agency of Flanders, OVAM, said Saturday that there is sufficient capacity in the incinerators, and that the problems are logistical.”

Agence France-Press reports that the country’s “latest problem stems from the astronomical quantities of cocaine from Latin America that are intercepted in Antwerp, Europe’s main port of entry for the illegal trade,” noting that Belgian authorities “are concerned that depots used to store the drugs could become targets for robberies by powerful gangs seeking to recover their lucrative cargoes.”

“According to local media reports, suspected gang members have been seen using drones to scout around customs depots housing seized cocaine worth millions of euros,” Agence France-Press reported this week. “Authorities are working quickly to destroy the seizures but, Adyns said, to incinerate cocaine ‘there are environmental standards to be met.’”

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