Police have dismantled a “supercartel” that controlled a third of the total cocaine market in Europe, arresting 49 people in several countries, including six suspected bosses in Dubai, Europol said on Monday.
This international operation resulted in the seizure of 30 tonnes of drugs and arrests in Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, the European police agency said in a statement.
“Drug traffickers considered high-value targets by Europol came together to form what was known as a ‘supercartel’ which controlled around a third of the cocaine trade in Europe,” Europol said.
As part of the same investigation, “more than 30 tons of cocaine were confiscated in various European ports”, said the Spanish Civil Guard, which participated in the operation called Desert Light (“Light of the Desert”, in free translation) together with police agencies in the Netherlands. , France, Belgium and Dubai.
The network worked mainly with cocaine from South America, which arrived in Europe through the ports of Rotterdam (Holland) and Antwerp (Belgium).
Europol specified that two of the six “high value targets” (HTV) arrested in Dubai had ties to France; another two, with the Netherlands; and the last two, with Spain.
The arrests were possible because, last year, the police invaded the cell phones of the traffickers’ network, which were encrypted, said the European agency.
With regard to Spain, the Civil Guard baptized the investigation as Operation Faukas and carried out simultaneous raids in Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona on November 8, after having found, in March 2020, 698 kg of cocaine in a container in the port of Valencia (east).
The Civil Guard investigation resulted in the arrest of “15 people”, the security body said in a statement.
“With this operation, a historic milestone was achieved in the fight against global drug trafficking, and the action carried out in Dubai is unprecedented, culminating in the simultaneous arrest of six HVT who took refuge in that emirate with the conviction of feeling safe from a possible police action”, declared the Civil Guard.
The organization’s leader, a British citizen, fled Spain for Dubai after being the victim of an attempted kidnapping. From there, “he continued directing and coordinating the criminal activities” of the gang, explained the armed institute.
The cocaine was imported from Panama, and the supplier, a Panamanian also based in Dubai, “kept in contact with the other barons of the emirate,” added the Civil Guard.