Customs officers seized several tonnes of cannabis from a ship at the Freeport last night, in what the government is describing as the largest drug bust in Malta’s history.
The Malta Customs Department said the 10,000-11,000kg of cannabis resin was found in containers which were declared to be carrying pails of crockery detergent and blow-torches. Initial indications suggest the resin had a street value of approximately €28.5 million.
This find breaks the record set in October last year, when 550kg of cannabis resin were found in three vehicles.
The containers, which were transiting through Malta on their way from Syria to Libya, were flagged as ‘potential high risk containers’ following risk analysis performed by the Malta Customs Container Monitoring Unit. All four containers were scanned by the ZBV backscatter scanner, and subsequently by the Nuctech x-ray scanner. In both occasions, all pails of detergent produced inconsistency in the image.
Upon physical inspection, Customs officials uncovered bundles of brown substance hidden within the detergent. Following a narcotics field-test, conducted by Customs officials, there was a positive indication for cannabis resin.
The government said in a statement that the container ship was being tracked for a number of days before it arrived in Malta and that Customs officials intervened after it docked here.
The drugs are currently being analysed by the police’s drug squad and forensic team and a magisterial inquiry has been launched.