Five tonnes of cannabis intercepted at Freeport in second largest drug haul ever

The drugs, worth a staggering €7.45 million on the streets, were found in a container that had been driven from Spain to Malta

Customs has registered the second-largest drug haul in Malta's history
Customs has registered the second-largest drug haul in Malta's history

Over five tons of cannabis resin, with a street value of €7.45 million, were intercepted by the Customs Department this morning, in what marks the second largest drug haul in Malta's history.

The drugs were found in a container which had been driven from the port of Algeciras, Spain to Malta, and was intercepted at the Freeport - following an operation that started on Tuesday and went on until the early hours of Thursday morning - carrying 5,020kg of cannabis resin on board. 

The container had been declared to be carrying large rolls of black mulch film, a type of thick plastic sheet used in the a agricultural industry, with a company registered in Malta having been declared to be the consignee.

The Customs Department said that, upon scanning the container, first with a ZBV Backscatter and later with a Nuctech container scanner, its officials detected discrepancies in the images which led them to believe that narcotics were concealed in the cargo.

On physical inspection, the film was unravelled from the roll, which revealed a concealed cylindrical plastic tube. It was found that within the tube were several packets of narcotics embedded in expanded foam.

The department said that following a preliminary narcotics field test, the substance was confirmed to be cannabis resin. They then called for the assistance of the police Drug Squd, which is now carrying out an investigation, lead by Inspector Anthony Scerri.

A team of forensic experts were also called in to assist the police.

Customs said that the drug find comes at the end of what is called a "positive" year in terms of narcotic hauls.

The department's drug finds this year include:

  • 11,000kg of cannabis hidden in two containers arriving from Damascus, discovered in September
  • 150kg of cannabis hidden underneath a container vessel moored at the Freeport, in January
  • 100kg of cocaine were detected, in February in a container at the Freeport. These were sent under a controlled delivery procedure to Croatia, leading to a huge criminal gang being arrested
  • 44kg of pure cocaine was found in a container arriving from Equador in November
  • 10kg of cannabis was found hidden in a car arriving from Sicily and spotted by the Canine Unit in November
  • 5kg of cannabis and two kilos of heroin were discovered hidden in the luggage of a passenger arriving from Portugal, at the airport by the Canine Unit in October