An international operation targeting maritime drug smuggling along the west coast of Europe has resulted in the arrest of twelve individuals and the seizure of over 1,500 kilograms of cocaine.

Belgian customs spearheaded the operation, named White Sea III, which took place from June 12 to July 11. Customs and police agencies focused their efforts on combating maritime smuggling methods in the English Channel, the North Sea, and various seaports along the west coast.

During the operation, a significant pattern emerged, revealing an increasing trend of smuggling drugs on board or underneath ships. Maritime smuggling techniques encompass activities such as smuggling by crew members, offloading at sea, transferring goods to smaller vessels, or attaching them to the hull of a ship.

Twelve countries participated in the joint operation, including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Collaboratively, their law enforcement agencies analyzed 779 vessels and conducted inspections on 79 of them. The findings underscored the prevalence of smuggling methods beyond the use of containers, highlighting the aforementioned trend of concealing drugs on or beneath ships.

The operation led to the arrest of twelve individuals and the confiscation of 1,509 kilograms of cocaine. Belgium's federal public finance service disclosed these results on Thursday.

Belgian customs took the lead in this operation as part of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT), a cooperative program aimed at combatting various forms of crime across Europe. Photo by Argv0, Wikimedia commons.