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Brussels Airport finds drugs hidden in Easter chocolate bunnies

14:54 10/04/2023

Authorities at Brussels Airport seized three Easter rabbits and discovered that they were made not of chocolate but from a solid block of the drug MDMA.

The blocks were intended to be converted into ecstasy pills, FPS Finance spokeswoman Florence Angelici explained.

“It was pure MDMA, weighing 1.8kg,” Angelici said.

“The fake chocolate bunnies were discovered in a postal parcel sent from a false address in Belgium to a private address in Australia. The drugs will be destroyed.”

Veteran customs officer Pol Meuleneire discovered the drugs using a Raman spectroscope, which can identify substances by their chemical fingerprint, against the base of a chocolate-coloured rabbit.

Several other illicit products were found last week, including a Peppa Pig lunch box. While it looked normal at first glance, the packaging was too heavy to be just cardboard and plastic. It was filled with ketamine, an anaesthetic used as a recreational drug.

Ketamine is one of the most frequently discovered illegal exports at the airport’s postal centre.

Customs officials also found a box of Little Chemists – a children's game – that contained a bag of crystal methamphetamine.

Considered a gateway to Europe for cocaine manufactured in Latin America, Belgium has also become a hub for synthetic drugs manufactured in Europe and shipped around the world by mail.

“In 2022, we seized almost six tonnes of drugs at the airport,” Angelici said.

“This is circulating all over the world. Today, people can order online on the ‘dark web’ in a few clicks and have it delivered to their home.”

Ketamine, MDMA and methamphetamine are hidden in everyday objects or in jars labelled as vitamin supplements and shipped from ordinary post offices.

Meuleneire, who is due to retire in a few months, described how times have changed compared to his early career, when finding just 10g of cannabis in an envelope was a source of excitement for customs officers.

Today, he said the workspace in an office building in the cargo area of Brussels airport is overflowing with suspicious packages and bags and jars filled with illegal pills and powders.

Antwerp is considered the main port of entry into Europe for cocaine from Latin America. Some of it is re-exported by post to countries like Australia, where it sells for more.

Belgian customs officials say that Venezuelan gangs that export drugs to Europe also import synthetic drugs, such as crystal methamphetamine, from Belgium. The drugs are manufactured in laboratories in the Netherlands and Belgium.

“The smugglers use mules to transport the packages and mail them around the world,” Angelici explained.

At Brussels airport, a computerised platform selects parcels based on known suspicious characteristics. Customs officers then set to work scanning and, in some cases, opening them.

Among the most surprising discoveries, Meuleneire recalls portraits of Christ whose frames were stuffed with drugs, teddy bears full of pills and copper pipes filled with tranquillisers.

Written by Helen Lyons