BRUSSELS — Legislation enforcement authorities in six completely different international locations have joined forces to take down a “tremendous cartel” of medicine traffickers controlling about one third of the cocaine commerce in Europe, the European Union crime company mentioned on Monday.
Europol mentioned 49 suspects have been arrested through the investigation, with the newest collection of raids throughout Europe and the United Arab Emirates going down between Nov. 8-19.
The company mentioned police forces concerned in “Operation Desert Gentle” focused each the “command-and-control heart and the logistical medication trafficking infrastructure in Europe.”
Over 30 metric tons of medicine had been seized through the investigations run in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE with the help of Europol. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration additionally performed a task in bringing down the group, which was additionally concerned in cash laundering, Europol mentioned.
“The dimensions of cocaine importation into Europe beneath the suspects’ management and command was large,” Europol mentioned, including that the suspects used encrypted communications to arrange medication shipments.
The Netherlands was the nation the place a lot of the arrests had been made, with 14 suspects arrested in 2021. Europol mentioned six “high-value targets” had been arrested in Dubai.
Dutch authorities mentioned one of many suspects arrested in Dubai allegedly imported hundreds of kilos of cocaine into the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021. The 37-year-old man with each Dutch and Moroccan nationality can also be being prosecuted for laundering giant quantities of cash and possession of firearms. Police began investigating him after investigators cracked the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC, which is widespread with criminals.
A 40-year-old Dutch-Bosnian citizen was additionally arrested in Dubai following an investigation primarily based on intercepted Sky messages, based on Dutch police. He’s suspected of importing into Europe cocaine and uncooked supplies for the manufacturing of amphetamines.
File quantities of cocaine are being seized in Europe. Its availability on the continent has by no means been larger, with extraordinarily excessive purity and low costs.
Greater than 214 tons of cocaine had been seized within the area in 2020, a 6% enhance from the earlier 12 months, and specialists from the European Monitoring Middle for Medication and Drug Dependancy consider that quantity may attain 300 metric tons in 2022.