Police smash European cocaine ‘super cartel,’ arrest 49

Nov 27, 2022, 11:03 AM | Updated: Nov 28, 2022, 2:46 am
FILE- This Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, file photo shows the sun bouncing off the Europol headquarters...

FILE- This Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, file photo shows the sun bouncing off the Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. Europol says law enforcement authorities in six different countries have joined forces to take down a “super cartel” of drugs traffickers controlling about one third of the cocaine trade in Europe. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Law enforcement authorities in six different countries have joined forces to take down a “super cartel” of drugs traffickers controlling about one third of the cocaine trade in Europe, the European Union crime agency said on Monday.

Europol said 49 suspects have been arrested during the investigation, with the latest series of raids across Europe and the United Arab Emirates taking place between Nov. 8-19.

The agency said police forces involved in “Operation Desert Light” targeted both the “command-and-control center and the logistical drugs trafficking infrastructure in Europe.”

Over 30 metric tons (33 tons) of drugs were seized during the investigations run in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE with the support of Europol. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration also played a role in bringing down the organization, which was also involved in money laundering, Europol said.

“The scale of cocaine importation into Europe under the suspects’ control and command was massive,” Europol said, adding that the suspects used encrypted communications to organize drugs shipments.

The Netherlands was the country where most of the arrests were made, with 14 suspects arrested in 2021. Europol said six “high-value targets” were arrested in Dubai.

Dutch authorities said one of the suspects arrested in Dubai allegedly imported thousands of kilos of cocaine into the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021. The 37-year-old man with both Dutch and Moroccan nationality is also being prosecuted for laundering large amounts of money and possession of firearms. Police started investigating him after investigators cracked the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC, which is popular with criminals.

A 40-year-old Dutch-Bosnian citizen was also arrested in Dubai following an investigation based on intercepted Sky messages, according to Dutch police. He is suspected of importing into Europe cocaine and raw materials for the production of amphetamines.

Record amounts of cocaine are being seized in Europe. Its availability on the continent has never been higher, with extremely high purity and low prices.

More than 214 tons of cocaine were seized in the region in 2020, a 6% increase from the previous year, and experts from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction believe that amount could reach 300 metric tons (330 tons) in 2022.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Signage outside PayPal headquarters in San Jose, Calif., is pictured on March 10, 2015. PayP...
Associated Press

PayPal to cut 2,000 jobs in latest tech company cost-cutting

PayPal said Tuesday it will trim about 7% of its total workforce, or about 2,000 full-time workers
18 hours ago
FILE - Australian $5 notes are pictured in Sydney on Sept. 10, 2022. King Charles III won’t featu...
Associated Press

King Charles III won’t appear on new Australian bank notes

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — King Charles III won’t feature on Australia’s new $5 bill, the nation’s central bank announced Thursday, signaling a phasing out of the British monarchy from Australian bank notes, although he is still expected to feature on coins. A new Indigenous design will replace the previous portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Child in California mountain lion attack leaves hospital

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A 5-year-old boy who was attacked by a mountain lion while hiking in rural Northern California with his mother and grandfather has been released from a hospital, authorities said Wednesday. The boy had raced ahead of the adults on a trail in San Mateo County, south of San Francisco, Tuesday when […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Robert Hadden, center, leaves the federal courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. A ...
Associated Press

NY judge jails ex-gynecologist who abused 100s of women

NEW YORK (AP) — An ex-gynecologist convicted of sexually abusing hundreds of patients was ordered to spend the next two months in jail as he awaits sentencing, a federal judge in New York City ruled Wednesday. After hearing statements from some of the victims during the bail hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman tersely […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Mohammed Reza Mesmarian appears in court during his arraignment at the Regional Justice Cent...
Associated Press

Colorado man held in Nevada solar plant fire unfit for trial

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge has ruled a Colorado dentist unfit for trial following his arrest last month in what authorities characterized as a terror attack on a solar power facility serving Las Vegas Strip casinos. Mohammed Reza Mesmarian’s attorney, Nick Pitaro, said Wednesday that two psychiatrists found his client was unable to […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Teacher Jessica Flores directs students as they work on laptops in a classroom in Newlon Ele...
Associated Press

10 states mull cross-border rules to tackle teacher shortage

DENVER (AP) — Every Colorado school district, like many across the country, began 2023 understaffed. That’s caused classes to be crammed together, school bus routes to shrink, Spanish language courses to get cut from curriculums, and field trips to be nixed. This has prompted lawmakers in Colorado and other states to suggest legislation that would […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Police smash European cocaine ‘super cartel,’ arrest 49