49 arrested as police bust European cocaine ‘super cartel'


BRUSSELS — Law enforcement authorities in six different countries have joined forces to take down a “super cartel” of drugs traffickers controlling about one third of the cocaine trade in Europe, the European Union crime agency said on Monday.

Europol said 49 suspects have been arrested during the investigation, with the latest series of raids across Europe and the United Arab Emirates taking place between Nov. 8-19.

The agency said police forces involved in “Operation Desert Light” targeted both the “command-and-control center and the logistical drugs trafficking infrastructure in Europe.”

Over 30 metric tons of drugs were seized during the investigations run in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE with the support of Europol. The U.S. Drug Enforcement ministration also played a role in bringing down the organization, which was also involved in money laundering, Europol said.

“The scale of cocaine importation into Europe under the suspects’ control and command was massive,” Europol said, adding that the suspects used encrypted communications to organize drugs shipments.

The Netherlands was the country where most of the arrests were made, with 14 suspects arrested in 2021. Europol said six “high-value targets” were arrested in Dubai.

Dutch authorities said one of the suspects arrested in Dubai allegedly imported thousands of kilos of cocaine into the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021. The 37-year-old man with both Dutch and Moroccan nationality is also being prosecuted for laundering large amounts of money and possession of firearms. Police started investigating him after investigators cracked the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC, which is popular with criminals.

A 40-year-old Dutch-Bosnian citizen was also arrested in Dubai following an investigation based on intercepted Sky messages, according to Dutch police. He is suspected of importing into Europe cocaine and raw materials for the production of amphetamines.

Record amounts of cocaine are being seized in Europe. Its availability on the continent has never been higher, with extremely high purity and low prices.

More than 214 tons of cocaine were seized in the region in 2020, a 6% increase from the previous year, and experts from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug diction believe that amount could reach 300 metric tons in 2022.

You May Also Like
States Americans are moving to — and the states they are ditching

States Americans are moving to — and the states they are ditching

The pandemic sparked a restlessness in American life, with many families opting…
Ukrainian soldiers Andriy and Borisych, speaking from the besieged city of Bakhmut, said they have been battling hundreds of Wagner fighters for weeks in an attritional conflict

Wagner recruits ‘are pumped full of drugs that enable them to keep fighting’, Ukrainian soldier says

Ukrainian soldiers have compared Wagner recruits to zombies, describing drugged-up ex-prisoners climbing…
An arrest warrant has been issued for Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon

Police issue arrest warrant for Joe Mixon after he allegedly pointing a firearm at a woman

Cincinnati police issue arrest warrant for Bengals star Joe Mixon after he…
Naval Station Mayport holds ‘Mayport Dunk’ event for Groundhog Day

Naval Station Mayport holds ‘Mayport Dunk’ event for Groundhog Day

MAYPORT, Fla. – Naval Station Mayport held its own new tradition for…
House to vote to kick Rep. Ilhan Omar off Foreign Affairs Committee

House to vote to kick Rep. Ilhan Omar off Foreign Affairs Committee

Washington — The House is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution…
Ezricare eye drops CDC warning: Linked to US bacteria outbreak

Ezricare eye drops CDC warning: Linked to US bacteria outbreak

The outbreak, which includes at least 55 people in 12 states, is…
How to watch live from home

How to watch live from home

The Groundhog Day special, including Phil’s prediction, will be live-streamed here.“Standby for…
Indiana State Police: Munster officer fires at suspect trying to ram car at gas station

Indiana State Police: Munster officer fires at suspect trying to ram car at gas station

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team Thursday, February 2, 2023 12:17PM MUNSTER, Ind. (WLS)…