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Largest ever drug haul discovered in Freeport containers

Multi-million euro haul was being shipped from Syria to Libya

Updated 9.45pm with government statement

The Customs Department discovered several tonnes of cannabis resin while inspecting four containers at the Malta Freeport on Monday, a drug haul believed to be the largest ever in Malta.

Customs said in a statement that three of the containers had been said to contain pails of crockery detergent, while the other was declared to hold blow-torches.

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 consequently by the new Nuctech x-ray scanner. On both occasions, all pails of detergent produced inconsistency in the image.The haul is definitely the largest of its kind in Malta, both in quantity and in value.

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.

Customs said the haul had an estimated street value of millions of euros, although the exact value was yet to be confirmed following a purity analysis.

Customs officials requested the assistance of the Police Anti-Drug Squad and the Malta Police Forensic Section who are now handling and investigating the case. The duty magistrate was informed of the case.

Customs said that although investigations were still ongoing, the haul was definitely the largest of its kind in Malta, both in quantity and in value.

In a statement, the government congratulated the customs department on its work. It said the vessel carrying the drugs had been tracked for several days before its arrival in Malta.

Analysis, which will continue overnight and on Tuesday, has already revealed that the haul consists of "many tonnes" of suspected cannabis.

"This is another case where law enforcement is working well with respect to the rule of law," the government said.

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