A huge drug ‘super-cartel’ controlling a third of Europe’s cocaine trade has been busted by police officers, with 49 people arrested in countries including France and Dubai.
The huge international operation saw 30 tonnes of cocaine seized, as well as the gang’s supercars, luxury villas and hoards of cash in the ‘historic’ raid.
Spanish police said the organization’s leader is a ‘British national’ who fled his former base on the Costa del Sol for Dubai after the kidnapping attempt, where the Kinahan organized crime group is based. He was later arrested in Dubai.
Another British man was arrested on the Costa del Sol, a Spanish police source said, as officers raided a series of villas in Marbella, Madrid and Barcelona.
A huge drug ‘super-cartel’ controlling a third of Europe’s cocaine trade has been busted by police officers, with 49 people arrested in countries including France and Dubai. Pictured: Spanish Civil Guard police officers raid a mansion in Spain
The international effort also includes arrests in France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, the EU police agency said in a statement. Photo: Police in Spain arrest a suspect
Huge international operation seizes 30 tonnes of cocaine, plus gang supercars, luxury villas and piles of cash in ‘historic’ raids
The international effort also includes arrests in France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, the EU police agency said in a statement.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said, “Drugpins, regarded by Europol as high-value targets, came together in what was known as a ‘super cartel’, which accounts for a third of the cocaine trade in Europe.” controlled.”
‘The scale of cocaine imports into Europe under the control and command of the suspects was massive and more than 30 tonnes of drugs were seized by law enforcement during the investigation.’
Europol said Dubai had arrested two ‘high-value’ suspects linked to the Netherlands, another two linked to Spain and two more linked to France.
‘One of the Dutch suspects is a very big fish,’ a Europol source told French news outlet AFP on condition of anonymity.
Ten people were arrested in Belgium, six in France and 13 in Spain. Europol said another 14 people were arrested in the Netherlands in 2021 as part of the same campaign.
More than 500,000 euros (£433,000) were seized during raids on a series of luxury villas in Spain, as well as three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches, Spanish police said.
The Civil Guard says some of the vehicles cost around 300,000 euros (£260,000).
Spanish police said more than 500,000 euros (£433,000) were seized during the raids, as well as three weapons, expensive cars and luxury watches.
In footage released today by the Civil Guard, heavily armed officers can be seen entering mansions and taking away suspects in handcuffs.
15 people have been arrested in the Spanish part of the international police operation
Footage released today by the Civil Guard showed heavily armed officers storming the mansion, where they made some arrests and took the suspects away in handcuffs.
In Spain, the Civil Guard said that their operation, dubbed Operation Faucas, began in March 2020 with the seizure of 700 kg of cocaine in the port of Valencia.
A spokesman for the Spanish force said: ‘During the investigation, officers discovered that a criminal organization was smuggling containers with cocaine through the ports of Barcelona, Valencia and Algeciras.
‘They also established that a complex real estate business was organized on the Costa del Sol to launder the profits derived from drug trafficking.
‘The leader of this organization was identified as a British man linked to the Costa del Sol, who had to leave Spain for Dubai after becoming the subject of a kidnapping attempt.
‘From Dubai he continued to direct and coordinate the organization’s criminal activities, while at the same time maintaining drug trafficking contacts and business interests with other drug lords based in the Emirate city.’
Raids and arrests took place between 8 and 19 November across Europe and in Dubai.
The Kinahan organized crime group is based in Dubai, but it is unclear whether the group is linked to these raids.
Spanish police are calling the operation as part of an international operation codenamed ‘Historic’, Operation Desert Light, coordinated by Europol. Image: Spanish police officers confiscate weapons
The Civil Guard says three of the suspects captured as part of Operation Faucas, the Spanish end of the Desert Light operation, are considered high-value targets by Europol. Pictured: motorbikes on properties in Spain
In Spain, the Civil Guard said that their operation, dubbed Operation Faucas, had begun in March 2020 with the seizure of 700 kg of cocaine in the port of Valencia.
Spanish police are calling the operation as part of an international operation codenamed ‘Historic’, Operation Desert Light, coordinated by Europol.
A Spanish Civil Guard spokesman said: ‘With all agencies involved in this international effort, a strong message is being sent to criminal organizations, in the sense that no place is safe for those who try to evade justice. We do.’
He continued: ‘The leaders of this mega cartel from Dubai controlled and directed the criminal activities of the various cells in the belief that they were living in a sanctuary where they felt untouchable.’
The Civil Guard says three of the suspects captured as part of Operation Faucas, the Spanish end of the Desert Light operation, are considered high-value targets by Europol.
It was not immediately clear this morning how many British nationals were among the 49 detained.
One of the detainees in Dubai is believed to be a Panamanian who was supplying cocaine.
A spokesman said: ‘He is allegedly responsible for the introduction of drugs into the port of Manzanillo in Panama, who also had links with the rest of the drug barons in Dubai.
‘The criminal organization based in Spain had two distinct structures, one part responsible for drug clearance in sea ports and the other responsible for money laundering through real estate firms.
‘The first part was located between the provinces of Barcelona and Málaga and had direct influence on the Port of Barcelona.
‘This included two Bulgarians, one of whom was a high-value target for Europol, and three people of Spanish origin, including a Barcelona port worker who was responsible for the entry and exit of the vehicles.
‘The other part was made up of people who were trusted by the main leader of the criminal organisation.
‘It was based on the Costa del Sol, the nerve center for its financial activities where he had bought properties worth more than 24 million euros (£20 million) and laundered his drugs money.’
Dutch prosecutors said they would request the extradition of the suspects from the United Arab Emirates.
One of the suspects was a 37-year-old man with dual Dutch and Moroccan nationality, who was caught in 2020 and 2021 for allegedly importing thousands of kilos of cocaine into the Netherlands.
“These are serious criminal offenses relating to international drug trafficking, mainly from South America through the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam,” the Dutch Public Prosecution Service said in a statement.
The second was a 40-year-old dual Dutch-Bosnian citizen, it said.
And we probably need a line saying that it is not known whether the group is connected to these raids.