€1.1 billion worth of cocaine seized by German police in country's largest ever drugs bust

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
German customs authorities seized 4.5 tons of cocaine in a container shipped into Hamburg, Germany, from Uruguay, a haul with an estimated street value of nearly 1 billion euros (£913million) (AP)

German customs seized a record 4.5 metric tons of cocaine with a street value of €1.1 billion (£913 million) in the country's biggest-ever drug bust.

The drugs were discovered in a shipping container in Hamburg two weeks ago during a routine check, resulting in the largest shipment ever seized in Germany's history.

Customs officers found more than 4,200 packages concealed in 211 sports bags, which were discovered in a freight container which was said to be full of soy beans.

Officials confirm the shipment was being transported from Montevideo in Uruguay, via Hamburg, to Antwerp, Belgium.

The drugs were on their way from Montevideo, South America, to Antwerp, Belgium (GETTY)

The Hamburg Customs agency said in a statement:"This enormous amount represents the largest individual seizure of cocaine in Germany.

"Assuming that this likely high-purity cocaine can be cut to triple the amount for street sale, the 4.5 tons has a street value of approximately €1 billion."

The customs office said the drugs have already been destroyed “amid strict secrecy and extensive security precautions."

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Hamburg is Germany's largest port and Europe's third busiest behind Antwerp and the largest, Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.

The German port city is often referred to as the "gateway to the world" as the country's trade and travel has relied heavily on it throughout its history.

A recent report by the EU Drug Markets found that Rotterdam was the main point of entry for drug smugglers.

The customs office in Hamburg says that the drugs were seized two weeks ago when it checked the container that was travelling from Montevideo to Antwerp, Belgium. (German Customs/AP)

However in recent times, Hamburg was handling an increase in traffic.

In recent years cocaine shipments of up to one ton have been detected on numerous occasions.

But Friday's announcement was described as an unprecedented haul.

In 2017, Hamburg authorities destroyed drugs with a combined street value of €520million (£475million).