Drug trafficking – Two big cocaine cases were found in Europe
– Two big cocaine cases were found in Europe
A large network of white powder was discovered on Belgian soil, while 5 kg of the same drug was intercepted on a sailboat off Portugal. Belgium and the Netherlands have become the main product hubs for Europe.
The authorities made public on Monday two heavy blows to the cocaine trafficking. An important network was dismantled in Belgium, while a sailboat was intercepted with more than 5 kg of white powder on board the coast of Portugal. Common point of the two cases: South America.
Belgian justice announced Monday the dismantling of a criminal organization suspected of having imported into Belgium more than 15 tons of cocaine via the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam, with ramifications in Spain and Colombia. A total of 27 people were arrested in Belgium after 23 searches carried out mainly in the region of Liège (east). The operation mobilized 300 police officers, the federal prosecutor’s office said in a press release.
This organization located in the French-speaking east of Belgium is also active in the Dutch-speaking part as well as in Spain and the Netherlands, according to the prosecution. In Belgium, a cocaine processing laboratory was “dismantled”, another storage area searched, and “chemical waste depots” were discovered. Almost 600 kg of cocaine were seized.
“The presence of Colombian suspects working in the various settlements has been confirmed”, underlines the prosecution, without saying whether they are among the 27 arrested, whose nationality has not been specified. Guns, cars, encrypted cell phones, luxury watches, horses: a wide range of goods were seized, as well as “more than 1.6 tons of drugs in bulk with an estimated market value of 80 million euros” .
The investigation was opened three years ago. The fruit of European cooperation, this case also led to indictments in France last spring.
Belgium and the Netherlands have become the main hubs for cocaine trafficking to Europe, supplanting Spain, Europol noted in a report published in September. In 2020, cocaine seizures in Antwerp totaled 65.6 tonnes, a new record. Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador rank in the top three places for sending countries.
5.2 kg in a sailboat
It was also from South America that the sailboat boarded by the Portuguese authorities, flying the Spanish flag, came off Portugal. Two Spaniards and a Peruvian were arrested, they announced Monday.
This capture of 183 bundles of cocaine, exposed in the Portuguese Navy’s military base located in the southern suburbs of Lisbon, represents “the biggest seizure of narcotics carried out in Portugal in the last 15 years”, declared the director of the Portuguese judicial police, Luis Neves.
The three men arrested on Saturday are suspected of belonging to a powerful criminal network which organizes trafficking in large quantities of cocaine between Latin America and Europe.
Last Friday, the Spanish authorities had already announced the seizure of 2.5 tonnes of cocaine aboard the sailboat “Goldwasser”, off the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. The police then arrested two suspects traveling on board the boat and three other people in the region of Malaga (southern Spain).