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Cocaine 'super cartel' taken down after series of raids led by Europol

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Europol, the European Union’s police agency, said Monday that law enforcement conducted raids in six countries to take down massive cocaine “super cartel.” Photo courtesy of Europol/YouTube
Europol, the European Union’s police agency, said Monday that law enforcement conducted raids in six countries to take down massive cocaine “super cartel.” Photo courtesy of Europol/YouTube

Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Europol, the European Union's police agency, said Monday that law enforcement conducted raids in six countries to take down a cocaine "super cartel."

Law enforcement in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates conducted coordinated raids between Nov. 8 and Nov. 19 which led to the arrest of 49 suspects in an investigation known as Operation Desert Light, Europol said in a statement.

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Europol said that the arrests included "high-value targets" who had formed a super cartel that controlled one-third of the cocaine trade in Europe. The investigation included participation from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

"The scale of cocaine importation into Europe under the suspects' control and command was massive and over 30 tons of drugs were seized by law enforcement over the course of the investigations," Europol said in the statement.

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In Spain, the country's Guardia Civil made 13 arrests as well as the arrest of two high-value targets in Dubai while France's Police Nationale made six arrests as well as another two high-value targets, also in Dubai.

The investigation involved Beligum's Federal Judicial Police in Brussels and Antwerp, which arrested 10 suspects, while the Netherlands' National Police and police in Rotterdam made 14 arrests in 2021.

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A video posted by Europol to YouTube showed investigators searching homes filled with luxury cars, boxes of cash with stacks of passports.

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The man suspected of leading the super cartel was also arrested and identified by the BBC as a British national who fled to Dubai to avoid being arrested in Spain and continued to head the criminal group from the UAE.

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