The gang had been engaged in dealing drugs to countries across Europe with the help of international transport companies based in the Dutch cities of Zwolle and Oldenzaal.
According to justice authorities, the drugs gang organisation smuggled large consignments of cocaine and hashish hidden inside footstools sold by furniture store Leen Bakker from the east of the Netherlands.
The investigation was launched after police in Overijssel, in the eastern part of the Netherlands discovered more than 300 kilos of hashish and 20 kilos of cocaine hidden in a truck at a transport company in November 2021.
The seizure of the cargo that was destined for transport to Stockholm prompted an international investigation that led to further seizures of consignments of drugs as well as firearms.
According to locals reports, several Dutch suspects ordered hockers (foot stools) and cushions from the furniture store.
The hockers were then filled with cocaine and hashish and covered with pillows. One suspect even ordered 34 stools from the furniture store. According to authorities, the footstools with the drugs inside were then transported from, among other cities, Zwolle and Oldenzaal to Denmark, Sweden and Ireland, and Aruba.
Searches were conducted in those countries between November 2021 and April 2022, while in the Netherlands, raids were carried out on business premises and homes in Blaricum, Ede, Bussum, Leiderdorp, Oss, The Hague, Weesp, Leiden, Huizen, Almere and Naarden.
Two of the suspects are women and the rest are 19 men who are all aged between 23 and 59. Fifteen suspects who are detained would have had a guiding role, according to the Public Prosecution Service.
According to the investigation, the criminal organisation is suspected of large-scale smuggling of cocaine and hashish in containers with fruit and teak wood. A total of 1.2 tons of cocaine were seized from several locations.
In addition to the 1,200 kilograms seized, the police also attribute previous interceptions in European ports to the suspects. About 2,800 kilos of hard drugs were found and seized.
At the end of June there will be a pre-trial hearing in the court in Zwolle with all suspects summoned to appear.