10 arrests in Belgium as major European drug cartel is dismantled

The judicial authorities in several European countries and in the United Arab Emirates carried out a series of searches between 8 November and 19 November as part of an international investigation into drug trafficking in Europe. In a press statement released earlier on Monday Europol said that the investigation that lasted two years has resulted in the arrest of 49 people and the interception of more than 30 tons of drugs. 10 of those arrested were arrested here in Belgium.

Europol adds that the drug cartel that has been dismantled accounted for around one third of all cocaine that is smuggled into Europe. The most recent searches focused on the organisation's command and control centre and its logistical infrastructure.

Officers from the Belgian, French, Spanish and Dutch police services took part in the operation. In Belgium, the Antwerp and Brussels federal judicial police were called carried out the searches. They arrested a total of 10 suspects.

According to the Antwerp judicial authorities, the case is linked to another investigation into money transfers between those active within the trade in illegal drugs in Antwerp. As part of this investigation information was used that had been obtained from encrypted Sky ECC messaging platform. Four suspects were already arrested in August and GPS trackers, jammers, and 900,000 euro were seized.

In August the judicial authorities indicated that the gang of which those arrested are a part was being led from Dubai and the further investigation should focus on the link to the Gulf state.

Arrests in Dubai

Meanwhile, the Dutch judicial authorities gave more details on the two suspects detained in The Netherlands. One is a 37-year-old Dutch, Moroccan dual national. He is suspected of having smuggled thousands of tonnes of cocaine into The Netherlands between 2020 and 2021. 

He is being charged with belonging to a criminal organisation, money laundering money, corruption and possession of firearms. The second Dutch suspect is a 40-year-old Bosnian national. He is suspected of drug trafficking and trafficking in raw materials for the manufacture of drugs. 

Both men were arrested in Dubai. The Dutch authorities have requested their extradition. The judicial authorities in the UAE and the United States are also taking part in this international investigation into the narcotics smuggling.



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