Malta is sending a message that it is a serious country, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said after a record 600kg haul of cocaine by the Customs. 

Speaking during a visit to the Freeport, where the container full of cocaine was found, Caruana said the quantity of drugs found on Wednesday was equivalent to the normal haul for an entire year. 

The shipment, originating from Colombia and Ecuador and valued at around €70 million, is not believed to have been destined for Malta. 

Caruana said the investment in Customs’ capabilities over the years was reaping rewards. 

“The country sent a message yesterday that we are serious when it comes to these things”, the minister said. 

The minister said the government had shown over the past 12 months that it means business and would continue to do so. 

Customs director general Joseph Chetcuti explained how containers at the Freeport are taken in for scanning on the basis of a risk assessment. 

Chetcuti said Customs were also able to scan containers on location, which allows them to get a preliminary image of what is inside to see if further checks were needed.

He said on certain routes, all the containers on a vessel were scanned, in operations that can last a whole night. 

Chetcuti also explained that Customs was working to avoid bottlenecks at the airport now that passengers on flights from the UK will have to be subject to customs checks.

He said Customs had invested in a new scanner that allowed baggage to be scanned before being placed on the conveyor belt. 

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