Belgian Police Seize Record 11 Tons of Cocaine Over Easter Weekend

Experts make tests before the incineration of drugs at a military base in Pedro Brand, Santo Domingo province, Dominican Republic, on December 13, 2018. - Over 14 tons of drug -mainly cocaine, crack and marijuana- have been incinerated since January at the military base. (Photo by Erika SANTELICES / AFP) …
ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP via Getty Images

BRUSSELS (AP) – Belgian authorities came out of the long Easter weekend with another record cocaine haul after customs officials at the port of Antwerp seized almost 11 tons of the drug that was discovered amid a cargo of blue leather.

The shipment brought the total amount of cocaine seized in Belgium over the past six weeks to 27.64 tons worth an estimated $1.63 billion as police capitalized on the breaking of an encrypted communications network popular with criminals, prosecutors said.

Last month, Belgian police arrested 48 people during an operation involving more than 1,500 officers and targeting organized drug crime.

Belgian prosecutors said investigators cracked the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC and intercepted a billion messages during a two-year investigation.

With thousands of shipping containers reaching Antwerp every day, the Belgian port city is one of Europe´s main entry ports for cocaine. Trafficking in the city has led to a recent surge of violence, including gun battles and grenade attacks.

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