Bulgarian Customs Seize 6.3 Kg Cocaine, 256 kg Heroin in 2015
Cocaine hidden in bottles of wine, deodorant flasks and mobile phone chargers were discovered during customs checks at Bulgaria’s borders last year, Dnevnik daily reported on Tuesday.
Smuggling dried leaves of the khat plant has been registered as a new trend, Dnevnik said citing the National Customs Agency report for 2015.
Khat is leafy plant which acts as a traditional herbal stimulant when chewed. Its natural distribution is limited to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (Kenya, Yemen, and Ethiopia). The plant is banned in most of Europe and North America.
The total volume of narcotic substances and drug precursors seized by the Bulgarian customs authorities last year was a third of the amounts seized in 2014, while the number of cases dropped by 40%.
Seized heroin, which is traditionally believed to be the drug most often trafficked via Bulgaria, was 256 kg. This is 500 kg less than in 2014, and at the levels of 2010-2011, according to the customs statistics.
Bulgarian customs officers prevented the trafficking of a total of 6.3 kg of cocaine in five cases last year.
A Chilean woman who travelled from Buenos Aires to Sofia via Rome was detained at Sofia Airport carrying about 2.6 kg of cocaine concealed in two bottles of Chilean wine.
A woman from Venezuela who arrived in Sofia from Brazil via Qatar was detained carrying 2.7 kg of cocaine hidden in phone chargers and deodorant flasks.
The probes into those two cases and several more which were registered elsewhere in Europe but were related to Bulgaria point to a pattern of illicit imports of cocaine in batches measuring one to three kilogrammes each carried by South American couriers. According to Bulgarian customs officers, the final destination of the cocaine is Turkey, Dnevnik said.
Twenty-six attempts for the trafficking of a total of 541 kg of cannabis-based products were thwarted by the Bulgarian customs authorities last year.
Thirty-six attempts to smuggle a total of 825 kg of dried khat leaves into Bulgaria were thwarted last year, which is indicative of a new trend emerging in illicit trafficking of narcotic substances across Bulgaria’s borders.
In most cases, the dried khat leaves arrived via postal and air cargo shipments declared as tea from Kenya and Ethiopia. Operational data suggest the final destination of the khat leaves were Belgium and the Netherlands.
According to the report, Bulgarian citizens continued to play a significant role in the trafficking of precursors for the production of synthetic drugs to Central and Western Europe last year, Dnevnik said.
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