Police in the Netherlands and Ireland were very keen to talk to the owners of two containers that arrived in Rotterdam weeks ago—but they never showed up to collect them. Inside the abandoned containers, which were destined for Ireland, was a huge shipment of cocaine disguised as charcoal, CNN reports. Sources tell the Irish Times that police believe the smugglers realized the shipment from South America was being watched and had become "too hot to handle." A similar shipment was seized in Spain last month.
Police have now brought the shipment to Ireland for analysis. They believe the bags of charcoal contain around $41 million in cocaine, which would make the seizure one of the biggest in Irish history. The haul is more than three times the total amount of the drug seized in the country last year. Police say smugglers treated the cocaine with carbon dust, black dye, and an odor blocker to thwart sniffer dogs before shaping it into blocks that resembled charcoal, RTE reports. Extracting the drug again would have involved complicated chemical processes. Police say the size and sophistication of the operation narrows the suspects down to a small number of organized crime groups, and they expect to make arrests soon. (Read more drug smuggling stories.)