16 arrests in Belgium as international cocaine smuggling ring is dismantled

The Judicial Authorities announced on Thursday that an international drug smuggling ring has been dismantled. Here in Belgium a total of 29 people including three police officers and a former officer of what was used to be called the "Gendarmerie" have been questioned. 16 of them have been detained. Between Monday 28 September and Thursday 1 October 54 properties were searched in Belgium. 33 of these were in the Antwerp area, 19 in Limbourg Province and 2 in East Flanders.  

At the same time 7 properties were searched in The Netherlands, 3 in Spain and 3 in the UK. 16 suspects have been detained on suspicion of the importation of narcotics, money laundering and membership of a criminal organisation. Another suspect has been given conditional bail and two other people were released after questioning.

On Monday 1.3 million euro in cash was seized and a further 700,000 euro on bank accounts was frozen. Shares worth 62,000 euro were also confiscated, as were a number of fire arms and around 40 vehicles.

In The Netherlands 3 people have been arrested ahead of them being sent to Belgium for qustioning next week. Dutch police also seized 66.850 in cash and 9 fire arms/

In Spain one person was arrested. 35,000 euro, a fire arm and 15 vehicles were confiscated by the Spanish Judicial Authorities.

The investigation into the drug smuggling ring got under way at the end of 2019 when 2,800 kg of cocaine was seized in a container at the port of Antwerp. A further 650kg was later seized and 4 suspects arrested. Detectives believe that at least 10 consignment of cocaine were smuggled in by the gang. It is estimated that the total street value of the drugs smuggled in by the gang is between 195 and 325 million euro. 

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