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Police in Europe have seized one of the world's largest ever cocaine hauls that experts believe is worth billions of dollars.
The joint investigation between Belgian and German authorities nabbed a whopping 23 tonnes of the white stuff, which was hidden in shipping containers.
A ship coming from Paraguay was investigated as it entered the port of Hamburg earlier this month after getting a tipoff from the Netherlands.
They identified three containers on the ship that were concerning. The containers said they had hundreds of cans of construction putty, however the cans also collectively held around 16 tonnes of coke.
German Customs Investigation head Rene Matschke told CNN it 'was pretty disgusting to separate the cocaine from the putty as it is so sticky'.
There was another 7.2 tonnes of the drug seized in Antwerp after cops dug a little deeper into 11 containers that were meant to be full of pineapple, mackerel, squid and wood.
The total haul of the joint operation could have a street value of between €1.5 billion to €3.5 billion, depending on what is used to cut the drug.
Dutch police say one man has been arrested so far in the investigation, a 28-year-old whose name was on the shipping address for the drugs.
It's the largest seizure of cocaine in Europe's history and ranks in the top five of the world.
"The intercepted mega-shipments to the Netherlands together form an absolute record," the Dutch police said in a statement. "Never before has so much cocaine been intercepted at once."
German authorities are heralding this as a massive win in the fight against trafficking drugs.
Rolf Bösinger, State Secretary in Germany's Federal Ministry of Finance, has praised the work of customs officers for ensuring every single container that comes into the country is properly screened.
"We have succeeded in seizing a record amount of cocaine. With this blow against organized narcotics crime -- also thanks to the exemplary cooperation with European partner authorities -- German Customs has once again impressively demonstrated its clout," he said.
"Our strategy of continuing to massively strengthen customs is working."
The UN says around 102 tonnes of cocaine was intercepted in Europe in 2020 before it was able to make its way into the underground and into people's living rooms and parties.
Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg have been identified as the EU's biggest ports for drug trafficking.
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