Malta Customs has, once again, succeeded in blocking a huge amount of cocaine from reaching the streets. Due to high purity, the street value of the cocaine intercepted is estimated at 108.2 million euro.
In a long operation, that spanned from Wednesday morning till late Thursday afternoon, Customs Officials, stationed at the Freeport Scanning facility, intercepted and seized a record breaking 800kg of cocaine hidden in a 40ft reefer container.
The container was selected by the Customs Container Monitoring Unit following intelligence received and a meticulous risk assessment on containers transiting through Malta’s Freeport. The container was then screened, along several other containers, by Customs officials stationed at the Scanning Facility and flagged some discrepancies in scan.
The cargo was en-route from the port of Turbo, in Columbia, to the port of Mersin, in Turkey, with a refrigerated payload of 1,200 boxes of bananas. The Officials, together with members from the Malta Police Drug Squad who were called on scene, opened the reefer and started physically inspecting all the boxes and, subsequently, elevated 800 packets of a white substance hidden in 26 boxes which gave a positive indication for high purity cocaine.
The packets carried a net weight of 1kg each and were concealed within the boxes of fruit. However, the difference in density and consistency was immediately flagged by the scanning officials.
Last year, in a similar bust, the Customs Department made a record breaking haul of 740 packages, totaling at 740kg of cocaine, worth 100 million euro, also hidden in boxes of banana.
Today’s seizure is historical both in its size and in its street value, which has been estimated at 108.2 million euro.
The Customs Department has been breaking its cocaine seizure records, year on year, with 2019 recording a total of 750kg (in 13 separate seizures), 2020: 612kg (in 1 seizure), 2021:740kg (in 1 seizure) and 2022: 800kg (in 1 seizure) .
The case was handed over to the Malta Police Drug Force, for further investigation, and duty Magistrate Marsianne Farrugia is leading the inquiry.