Belgium carries out vast drugs sting operation

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Police in Belgium staged a vast sting operation against drug traffickers yesterday, with the main focus on the port of Antwerp, a major hub for Europe’s cocaine trade.

More than 1,500 police conducted some 200 searches simultaneously since 5am in “one of the biggest operations ever organised on Belgian territory”, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office told AFP.

The operation is being steered by the federal prosecutor’s office and the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office.

According to broadcaster RTBF, the operation mainly targets drug traffickers in Antwerp, particularly those involved in the cocaine trade, as well as the broader organised crime gangs connected to them.

The federal prosecutor’s office does not plan to release further information, pending the outcome of the operation and possible press conference today in Brussels.

An all-time record of 65.5 tonnes of cocaine were seized last year at the Port of Antwerp, Europe’s second biggest port.

The drugs come from Latin America – principally Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador – and are usually found hidden away in cargo containers offloaded from ships.

Antwerp has been struck by a crime wave connected to the drug trade, including grenade attacks and murders.