Over 600 kilos of cocaine were intercepted by Customs at the Freeport, making it Malta’s largest ever drug bust. The drugs have a street value of around €69 million.
The cocaine was found hidden within pallets that were carrying cooking oil.
The cargo left Ecuador and transited through Colombia before being intercepted by Customs in Malta en-route to Libya.
Discrepancies in the scanning image of the cargo lead the Officials to carry out a physical inspection on the container’s load. The pallets, carrying the freight, appeared dense compared to regular images and, subsequently, officials offloaded and dismantled one of the pallets.
The inspection led to the discovery of packets concealed within the pallet’s structure, and contained a white substance which gave a positive indication for Cocaine. A total of 510 packets were found, weighing 1.2kg each, for a total of a 612 kg haul. The street value of these narcotics amount to €69 million.
The case was handed over to the Police Drug Squad for further investigations, while the duty Magistrate was informed about the haul and assigned several court experts to assist.
This haul was a record breaker due to the high value and amount from a single container, the Customs Department said.
“To get a better perspective, during 2019 a total of 750kg (€84.5 million) were intercepted by Customs from 16 containers. The Customs Department has played an instrumental and active role in the fight against narcotics movements through the borders and the investment in the Scanning Facility at the Freeport has proved to be a monumental return of investment for both the Department and the European law enforcement.”
The drug bust was first announced in Parliament by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, who praised the department for its work.