Authorities discovered $41.4 million (€35 million) of the Class A drug inside two shipping containers that arrived in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on their route to Ireland last month, thanks to a combined investigation between Irish and Dutch police.
The cargo, which originated in South America, was part of an attempt by organized criminal organizations to import more than half a ton of cocaine into Ireland, according to Ireland’s Garda Sochána police department.
Instead of delivering the product in bricks, the exporters appear to have become inventive in their attempts to avoid discovery by the police, hiding it inside several big sacks disguised as lumps of charcoal.
According to Irish broadcaster RTÉ, investigators discovered over 2,000 20kg bags containing charcoal; however, thanks to police sniffer dogs and the use of an X-Ray scanner, police were able to quickly determine that not all of the lumps of charcoal were what they seemed and that some were actually batches of cocaine that had been chemically disguised.
The Irish Naval Service finally led the confiscated containers into Dublin Port, where Forensic Science Ireland verified that cocaine was included in the cargo but added that extracting the substance would take several days.
According to the press release reported in CNN, the raid was part of a joint operation between Irish police and the Organized Crime Bureau. Garda assistant commissioner John O’Driscoll also indicated that arrests linked to the cargo would likely be made soon.
In the Garda Sochána’s work to disrupt and destroy organized criminal organizations accused of importing cocaine and other drugs into Ireland, this is a significant development,’ he said in a statement.
Michael O’Sullivan, who heads the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre, which coordinates anti-drug trafficking operations across Europe, said that the raid was a “major seizure” that would “give a tremendous blow to the organized crime organization involved,” as per RTÉ.
Last month, Spanish authorities reported a similar finding of cocaine disguised as charcoal, claiming that the narcotics had been ‘camouflaged’ via a ‘complex chemical procedure.’ Police in Ireland thinks that after the substance arrived, the organized criminal gang would have flown in a professional chemist from South America to extract it.