The Customs Department has registered the second largest drug haul in Malta’s history, wrapping up a record-breaking year in all aspects.

In an operation which started on Tuesday late afternoon and spread, uninterruptedly, till the early hours of Thursday, a container from the port of Algeciras in Spain that was heading to Malta was intercepted by the Malta Customs Department at the Freeport.

It was found to be carrying 5,020kg of cannabis resin, with a street value of approximately €7,450,000. A company, registered in Malta, was declared to be the consignee.

The container was declared to be carrying large rolls of black mulch film, which is a type of thick plastic sheet used in the agricultural industry. Upon scanning the container, customs officials noticed discrepancies in the images which led them to believe that narcotics were concealed in the cargo.

Upon physical inspection, the film was unravelled from the roll and a concealed plastic tube was uncovered. This plastic tube was lined with thick lead in an attempt to trick the X-ray equipment. Within the tubes, several packets of narcotics were found embedded in expanded foam.

Following a preliminary narcotics field test, which proved positive to cannabis resin, the customs officials called for the assistance of the police anti-drug squad, led by Inspector Anthony Scerri.

A magisterial inquiry, led by Magistrate Rachel Montebello is underway. She is being assisted by the Drug Squad and a team of forensic experts.

A year of records - Customs

Customs said this year has been the most positive in the history of the local Customs Department in terms of narcotics hauls, having several large scale positive cases, including:

• 11,000kg of cannabis hidden in two containers arriving from Damascus, in September (the largest drug haul in Maltese history);

• 150kg of cannabis hidden beneath a container vessel moored at the Freeport, in January;

• 100kg of cocaine were detected, in February, with the scanner in a container at the Freeport but sent under a controlled delivery procedure to Croatia, where a huge criminal gang was arrested;

• 44kg of pure cocaine found in a container reefer arriving from Equador in November,

• 10kg of cannabis hidden in a car arriving from Sicily and spotted by the Canine Unit in November, and

• 5kg of cannabis and two kilos of heroin hidden in a passenger's luggage, arriving from Portugal, at MIA, by the Canine Unit in October.

Photo: Customs DepartmentPhoto: Customs Department

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us