An MSC containership that was part of a fake bomb threat investigation outside the Port of Antwerp has now been discovered to have smuggled substantial amounts of cocaine.
The 4,872-TEU boxship was found at the harbour with more than 2.4 tonnes of the drug hidden inside a cocoa container, according to the prosecutor’s office in Antwerp, Belgium.
“The drugs were found in a container between a cover load of cocoa,” said the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office, as reported by local media.
Belgian authorities were alerted of a potential bomb threat on 22 December that subsequently forced the ship to berth off the coast of Vlissingen.
Following thorough inspections, the threat turned out to be a hoax and the MSC Lorena ultimately departed Vlissingen after a week at anchor.
On 29 December, the ship was allowed to anchor in the port of Antwerp and unload its cargo where the drugs were found.
Two males, one from Hagenaar, age 22, and the other from Delft, age 24, have been detained by police in connection with the bomb hoax on suspicion of terrorist operations.
The news comes a month after MSC were accused of being a key conduit for Balkan gangs’ drug trafficking.
The Bulkan cartel, among Europe’s most infamous drug trafficking gangs, have reportedly leveraged MSC vessels as narcotics carriers for the past decade through forcibly recruiting MSC employees, according to Bloomberg News.
These allegations were profusely denied by MSC who released a statement in late December 2022, that stated: “MSC strongly objects to Bloomberg’s headline claim that the subversion of a small number of seafarers from Montenegro, in what remain very specific circumstances, amounts to the “company” being ‘infiltrated’ by a drugs cartel.”