The Belgian government will focus on tackling drug trafficking via major European ports during its six-month presidency of a key EU body.

Belgium said its priorities would include tackling serious organised drug-related crime after taking over the rotating leadership of the Council of the European Union, the ministerial-level decision-making body.

The country’s government introduced a new maritime security law last year because of a surge in drug smuggling and violent gang feuds related to the illicit shipment of drugs using shipping containers.

Police said gangs had taken advantage of lax security at European ports to break into computer networks and redirect shipments of illicit cargoes into criminal hands.

“Tackling large-scale drug-related organised crime groups using logistic hubs and, more specifically, large ports is the top priority,” said Hilde Vandevoorde, the Belgian representative at Eurojust, the agency coordinating European governments’ efforts to tackle serious cross-border crime.

Seizures of cocaine in the EU are hitting record levels. The 27-nation bloc in October announced a new port alliance aimed at stepping up the fight against what the EU described as one of the most significant security threats it faced.

The European policing agency, Europol, warned last year that organised crime had used corrupt insiders to secure unique codes for containers holding drug shipments in a tactic known as PIN-code fraud.

The reference code allows a lorry driver acting for a drugs gang to pick up a container and drive off with it before recovering the contraband. The tactic has become increasingly popular as it requires only a few people.

Eurojust said it would work closely with agencies in Latin America to try to stem the flow of drugs and bring the smugglers to book.

Morocco cocaine seizure

Police in Morocco this week seized nearly 1.5 tonnes of cocaine hidden in banana boxes on a container ship heading to Turkey, according to reports.

The cocaine was found on an unidentified ship with a European flag that had left South America, said Reuters citing Moroccan police. The illicit cargo was found on Tuesday when the ship called at the Tanger Med industrial port complex.