Police have smashed an enormous drug “supercartel” that managed a couple of third of Europe’s cocaine commerce, arresting 49 individuals in numerous international locations, together with six prime suspects in Dubai, Europol mentioned on Monday.
The worldwide operation, codenamed “Desert Light,” seized 30 tons of the drug and led to arrests in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain, the EU’s police company mentioned in an announcement.
The crackdown in Dubai created a “big fish” from the Netherlands, who reportedly had hyperlinks to alleged Dutch crime boss Ridouan Taghi, who was himself seized within the Gulf emirate in 2019.
“The drug needles, considered valuable targets by Europol, had come together to form what was known as a ‘supercartel’ that controlled around a third of the cocaine trade in Europe,” Europol mentioned.
“The volume of cocaine imported into Europe under the control and command of the suspects was enormous and over 30 tons of drugs were seized by law enforcement during the course of the investigation.”
The Dutch suspect allegedly fashioned an alliance in Dubai with the leaders of Irish and Italian drug gangs who had additionally been arrested, Dutch public service channel NOS mentioned.
A video launched by Europol confirmed brokers together with some from the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Spain’s Guardia Civil arresting suspects and seizing luxurious automobiles and stashed money.
“Extremely Large Fish”
Europol mentioned Dubai had arrested two “high value” suspects linked to France, two linked to the Netherlands and one other two linked to Spain.
Ten individuals have been arrested in Belgium, six in France and 13 in Spain. One other 14 individuals have been arrested in 2021 within the Netherlands as a part of the identical operation, the Hague-based group mentioned.
“One of the Dutch suspects is an extremely big fish,” a Europol supply advised AFP on situation of anonymity.
“He was as important as Taghi, if not more important.”
The arrests from November 8 to 19 have been the most recent in a collection throughout Europe that adopted a police hack of subtle encrypted telephones utilized by organized crime networks final yr, Europol mentioned.
Police secretly used the SKY ECC cellphone platform to pay attention to what have been presupposed to be safe communications between drug sellers.
Many of the medicine focused cocaine coming from South America by means of the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, though some had handed by means of South Africa.
Dutch prosecutors mentioned they might request the extradition of the 2 suspects from the United Arab Emirates.
One was a 40-year-old twin Dutch-Bosnian citizen, suspected of smuggling 1.8 tons of cocaine through the German port of Hamburg in 2020, and of making ready the import of 8 tons of uncooked supplies for the manufacturing of amphetamines through Antwerp in Belgium.
Dutch media named him as Edin G. and mentioned he was wished by the US DEA for his hyperlinks to alleged drug kingpin Ridouan Taghi.
Moroccan-born Taghi was arrested in Dubai in 2019. He’s now on trial within the Netherlands accused of homicide and of working an enormous Amsterdam-based cocaine smuggling ring.
The second suspect is a 37-year-old twin Dutch and Moroccan nationwide, whom Dutch media named as Zouhair B. and mentioned they allegedly smuggled three tons of cocaine into the Netherlands value greater than 200 million euros.
He was additionally suspected of cash laundering and possession of firearms.
The investigation into each males was launched on the premise of decrypted messages from SKY telephones, the Dutch public prosecutor’s workplace mentioned in an announcement.
“These are serious crimes relating to international drug trafficking, mainly from South America via the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam,” it mentioned.
Spain’s Guardia Civil mentioned a complete of 13 individuals had been arrested in Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga on November 8 after 698 kilograms (1,539 kilos) of cocaine have been present in a container within the port of Valencia.
The pinnacle of the smuggling operation, a British nationwide, fled to Dubai after an tried arrest in Spain and continued to run the operation from there, it mentioned in an announcement.
The cocaine was imported from Panama in Central America and his provider, a Panamanian, additionally lived in Dubai, it mentioned.