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Europol seize 30 tonnes of drugs in 'super-cartel' bust

November 28, 2022

Dozens of key members of a drug empire were arrested following a massive joint operation. The suspects are believed to run around a third of the cocaine trade in Europe.

Spanish policemen cut up a bundle full of cocaine, in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias, Spain, 5 December, 2013.
Authorities seized more than 30 tonnes of cocaine worth billions of dollarsImage: Angel Medina G./dpa/picture alliance

Dozens of suspects believed to be part of a notorious drug cartel, controlling around a third of the cocaine trade in Europe, have been arrested following two years of investigation into their criminal activities, Europol said on Monday.

The European Union's law enforcement agency said 49 key suspects — of what they're calling a 'super cartel' — were arrested between November 8 and 19 across Europe and the UAE.

Those arrested are believed to have overseen a massive criminal network that was responsible for "flooding Europe with cocaine," the law enforcement agency said in a statement.

Over 30 tonnes of cocaine seized

"The scale of cocaine importation into Europe under the suspects’ control and command was massive and over 30 tonnes (30,000 kilograms) of drugs were seized by law enforcement over the course of the investigations," Europol said.

Police and law enforcement agencies in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE ran parallel investigations into the network's activities over the course of two years.

Together with Europol's intelligence and support, the police force in each of those countries arrested the "main targets" who used "encrypted communications to organize shipments."

Spanish officials arrested 13 in their own country and two others in Dubai, France arrested 6 in their own country and two others Dubai, Belgium arrested 10, and the Netherlands arrested 14 in their own country in 2021 and two others in Dubai.

The European Drug Report published in June 2022 identified the production of drugs within the European Union as well as the vast amounts imported into countries as being key policy challenges to tackle in coming years.

A record 213 tonnes of cocaine were seized in the European Union in 2020, according to the report. 

rm/kb (AFP,AP)