A video of the raids shows armed police seizing wads of cash, multiple passports, sports cars and motorbikes and luxury properties.
The raids targeted both the “command-and-control centre and the logistical drugs trafficking infrastructure in Europe” between 8-19 November, according to Europol.
The drug-pins considered as high-value targets by Europol had formed a ‘super cartel’ which controlled around one third of the cocaine trade in Europe.
“These arrests are the culmination of parallel investigations run in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE with the support of Europol into the activities of this prolific criminal network involved in large-scale drugs trafficking and money laundering.”
“The scale of cocaine importation into Europe under the suspects’ control and command was massive and over 30 tons of drugs were seized by law enforcement over the course of the investigations.”
The US Drug Enforcement Administration also played a role in the series of co-ordinated actions by the various agencies.
The Dutch Public Prosecution Service added this morning that one of the suspects is a 37-year-old man with both Dutch and Moroccan nationality.
“He is being prosecuted by the Public Prosecution Service Rotterdam for importing thousands of kilos of cocaine into the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021, participating in a criminal organization, laundering large amounts of money, official corruption and possession of firearms.”
“The investigation into him started with decrypted messages from Sky cryptophones.”
“These are serious criminal offences pertaining to international drug trafficking, mainly from South America via the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.”
The arrested man is suspected of an important coordinating role in the import of cocaine. He had been under international alert since April 2022 and was wanted by all Interpol member countries.”
A second suspect arrested in Dubai is a 40-year-old Dutchman, who is also a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He became the target for police after a series of intercepted encrypted Sky messages.
“The man is not only suspected of importing large quantities of cocaine. He is also suspected of organising the import of almost 8,000 kilos of raw materials for the production of amphetamine.”
“The raw materials for drug production came via the port of Antwerp with a company in the Netherlands as final destination.
According to the Dutch authorities this man “probably played an important leading role in the importation of the prohibited goods.
“This includes a batch of approximately 1,800 kilos of cocaine that was imported via the port of Hamburg in 2020 with destination the Netherlands.”
Because of the Sky chats, the suspicion has also arisen that the man was involved as organiser, broker and financier in the import of 739.5 kilos of cocaine from Durban, South Africa to Rotterdam.
According to Europol the agency developed “reliable intelligence concerning a drug trafficking cartel flooding Europe with cocaine.”
“The main targets, who used encrypted communications to organise the shipments, were identified in the participating authorities.”
“Europol has since then hosted multiple coordination meetings in the past two years in order to bring together the different countries working on the same targets to establish a joint strategy to bring down the whole network.”
“This coordinated clampdown sends a strong message to criminals seeking sanctuary from law enforcement.”
Earlier in September, Europol and the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates took an important step in enhancing their cooperation.
A Liaison Officer Agreement was signed between the two, allowing UAE law enforcement liaison officers to be deployed to Europol’s headquarters in the Netherlands.