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CANU releases 2, hunting 3 for Belgium’s 11.5 ton cocaine-in-scrap metal bust

Last Updated on Friday, 6 November 2020, 9:36 by Denis Chabrol

Guyana’s Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) has released two shippers in connection with the 11.5 ton cocaine bust in Belgium, and has since begun hunting several other persons even as international cooperation continues apace, a top anti-drug agent said Friday.

CANU Head James Singh declined to confirm whether Belgian law enforcement agencies would be providing shipping container seals to track down the movement of the containers from which the world’s largest ever cocaine stash was busted. The cocaine fetches a street value of 900 million Euros or more than GYD$220 billion.

But Mr. Singh said the Belgians and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) were assisting with the transnational probe. “The Belgians have been cooperating as well as the DEA they have provide photos and other details,” he told   News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News.

Mr. Singh said the two shippers were questioned, statements taken and they were released after they voluntarily went into CANU Thursday afternoon. He said CANU was now looking for three other persons associated with a yet to be named company.

The Brussels Times reported on Thursday that counternarcotics prosecutors said they had tracked the transatlantic journey of 11.5-tons of cocaine from Guyana, on the northeastern coast of South America, and seized it upon its arrival at the Port of Antwerp, the Brussels Times reported.

The catch is “the largest overseas drug bust ever, worldwide,” federal prosecutors told Belgian media, estimating the street value of the drug load at €900 million.

The massive load of cocaine left a port in Guyana on late October and prosecutors were able to track following the dismantlement of a drug trafficking gang led by a former Belgian counternarcotics chief which revealed the existence of tight-knit links between criminal gangs and counternarcotics and law enforcement officials.

Three police officers, a port manager and a lawyer were among some 20 other criminals arrested as part of the operation targeting the “well-structured” criminal organisation suspected of orchestrating large and “regular” drug shipments from South America to Belgium.

It was disguised as scrap metal and placed inside a steel container which was in turn packed into a sea container and loaded into a transatlantic vessel.

The dismantlement of the drug gang in late September led to the arrest and indictment of 22 people, with three people still in the Netherlands awaiting extradition.

Following the record-breaking drug bust on Wednesday, three others were arrested, including one person who is facing extradition to Belgium from the Netherlands.