The New York TimesThe New York Times

Belgian Port City Grapples With a Flood of Cocaine

By Elian Peltier

04 Dec 2021 · 5 min read

As a teenager in the 1980s, Norbert Somers would roam the port here, where his father worked as a customs officer. Biking through the docks and gazing at the ships undisturbed was a favorite pastime.

Since then, the port has grown into a sprawling high-security complex over about 47 square miles, with trucks and cranes handling millions of containers a year. And given the port’s size, Somers, now the head of the Belgian customs’ drug unit here, has grown alarmed about one concern: The port is now at the center of a huge intercontinental drug-smuggling operation.

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