ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — A huge heroin haul seized by police in Rotterdam two months ago originated in Afghanistan and was brought to the Netherlands on board a Soviet ship, police said Monday.
The haul, 485 pounds of pure heroin with a street value of $20 million, arrived in Rotterdam from the Soviet Baltic port of Riga hidden in containers of Afghan raisins, a police spokesman said. The heroin was still on the dockside packed in the raisin containers when police and customs officers confiscated the haul.
Dutch police believe it was Europe's biggest-ever seizure of the drug, but they have yet to find those behind the consignment.
The police spokesman said the shipment was unloaded June 2 from the 4,600-ton Soviet freighter Kapitan Tomson, which left Rotterdam the following day.
No approach has yet been made to the Soviet authorities by investigators, the Dutch Justice Ministry said in The Hague. Rotterdam police said it is possible that the captain of the ship was unaware he was shipping drugs.
Authorities were led to the heroin by investigations into the death of a leading figure in the Dutch narcotics underworld, Rob Koning, who was pushed into an Amsterdam canal and shot two weeks earlier.
Three people were arrested in connection with the heroin, but all were later released.
The discovery confirmed the continuing role of the Netherlands as a hub of the international narcotics trade, with Rotterdam, the world's biggest port, and Amsterdam's busy Schiphol airport serving as major transit points.