Schiphol baggage handlers arrested in cocaine bust

Dutch gendarmes have busted a cocaine-smuggling ring at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport which used baggage handlers to smuggle drugs in from the Caribbean, a police spokesman said Monday.

"In total of 20 people have been arrested following an investigation that started in April," said Robert van Kapel, spokesman for the Dutch royal gendarmes, tasked with border policing.

"Some of the suspects worked in the baggage handling section at Schiphol Airport, but for tactical reasons we can't at this stage reveal how many," Van Kapel told AFP.

Drug smugglers would notify baggage handlers about specific drug-filled suitcases that were arriving at Schiphol which would then be smuggled out by the airport workers, Dutch media reported.

Eight suspects were arrested in September, 10 in October and two more in the last week.

Police also confiscated some 70 kilos (150 pounds) of cocaine, van Kapel added.

Gendarmes at Schiphol in March confiscated 300 kilos of cocaine from South and Central America with an estimated street value of 12 million euros ($16 million).

The haul was one of the largest in recent years.

Schiphol is Europe's fourth-largest airport with between 120,000 to 140,000 passengers passing through daily.

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