This past week the Dutch public prosecutor reported that authorities had found and confiscated two consignments of cocaine in the port of Rotterdam, one in a consignment of beef and another in a cargo of pineapples. Both had been shipped from Brazil and were consigned to a receiver in Switzerland. The combined quantity of the drugs was 600 kilos with an estimated value of Euro 35 million.
These recent finds reflect a trend of high value smuggling attempts in recent years. These attempts are frequent and often concern large quantities of drugs. The method appears to be the same namely that the drugs are brought on board in South American ports in the cargo or otherwise hidden on board. The criminal networks then seek to intercept the drugs either in the port or after discharge enroute to the named consignee. There have also been reports of drugs being passed to persons on the quayside or to a passing barge.
Our recommendations in relation to these type of incidents is as follows:
- It is important that shipowners who are trading between South America and Rotterdam ensure proper watchkeeping and checks on board prior to and during departure and arrival. The shipowner should ensure that these measures are properly documented. This can prevent problems but also allows the owners to show that they took appropriate preventative measures and acted in good faith;
- Have a clear and concise drugs policy and ensure that the crew are fully familiar with its contents. Ensure that implementation and checks are properly documented and reported;
- In the event that there are any suspicious incidents during the voyage these should be reported to the Owners and advice sought from local specialists about the need to report the incident to the authorities as well as which preventative measures should be taken; and
- In the event that drugs are found we recommend arranging legal representation as soon as possible and ensure that the relevant evidence is secured. As the consequences will differ on a case by case basis and it is crucial that the necessary procedures are followed the involvement of a local correspondent is recommended to protect the interest of both the crew and her owners.
The team at NNPC Correspondents has experience with these types of cases and is available 24/7 to assist should any such incident occur or if you require assistance with appropriate preventative measures.