Belgium Has an Unusual Drug Problem

Authorities are seizing so much cocaine their incinerators can't handle the load
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2022 4:34 PM CST
Belgium Has a Drug Problem. It's Not What You Think
Packages of seized cocaine are stacked in Antwerp, Belgium.   (Federal Judicial Police Antwerp via AP)

Authorities at Belgium's port of Antwerp have gotten so good at intercepting smuggled cocaine that it's led to an unexpected problem: Their incinerators can't burn it all fast enough. And as AFP explains, that has led to a related problem: There's so much seized cocaine lying around in customs depots that gangs are reportedly plotting to steal some of it back. Authorities are working on solutions, which might involve building more incinerators. The Brussels Times has some context: About 100 tons of cocaine were seized at the port last year, and the figure is expected to top 110 tons this year. Figure a street value of about $5 billion for that amount, per the newspaper.

"If we have a huge drug bust, in terms of 5 to 8 tons, 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," a federal spokesperson tells Euronews. Last month, a single seizure—from two shipping containers originating in Suriname—added about 6.6 more tons to the "mountain of cocaine" (as described by the Antwerp prosecutor) being stored at undisclosed spots. AFP reports that gangs are reportedly using drones to try to ferret them out. (More Belgium stories.)

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