The correctional court of Antwerp on Friday has convicted three drivers of container handlers or straddle carriers for their involvement in cocaine trafficking. Two defendants were also found guilty of money laundering.
The trio received sentences of four to six years in prison and fines ranging from €20,000 to €24,000. The court also seized illegal assets totalling €957,000.
On 4 December 2018, a container carrying banana puree from Costa Rica was found at the MPET terminal. It had been unloaded on 22 November but then disappeared without a trace. It turned out that the stamps had been tampered with and Customs immediately suspected that a batch of cocaine had been removed from the container. Surveillance camera footage from the terminal implicated all three defendants.
As per the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the drugs were transferred from the container from South America to a European container to reduce the risk of inspections. The MPET resignation system showed that the defendants had not been ordered to move the container. However, they claimed to have received the order orally. The court found the charges established.
One defendant was sentenced to four years in jail and a fine of €20,000; another to four and a half years in prison and a fine of €22,000. The third accused was sentenced to six years in prison and a fine of €24,000, while his partner and his company were acquitted of money laundering.