Madrid, Nov 28 (EFE).- A massive drug cartel that reportedly controlled a third of Europe’s cocaine trade has been dismantled by Spain’s civil guard, working with Europol, resulting in 49 arrests across various European countries, Spanish authorities reported on Monday.
Among the detainees, 13 of which were apprehended in Spain, are the alleged drug lords who directed the mammoth drug trafficking operation from Dubai.
Spain’s interior ministry reported that six detainees, thought to be the ring’s drug lords, who had settled in Dubai years ago, had also been apprehended.
“From the city-emirate of Dubai, the leaders of this mega cartel, known as the ‘Drug Lords’ for the parties in this operation, controlled and directed the criminal activities of the different cells, under the conviction they were in a sanctuary where they felt untouchable and which, in turn, allowed them to maintain a high standard of living,” the interior ministry statement read.
During the operation, agents seized over 30 tons of cocaine in various European ports.
In total, 49 people were arrested in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Dubai
The organization had established bases in all the above countries to make use of some of Europe’s most important ports, which are considered the main gateway for drugs into the continent.
The criminal network had two operative branches in Spain, one in charge of moving drugs from commercial seaports and another tasked with money laundering of profits.
The civil guard probe began in March 2020 in the eastern Spanish port of Valencia, when officers intercepted a cargo of 698 kilos of cocaine. No arrests were made.
Investigators soon discovered that the cartel was using a complex corporate network of real estate investments in the Costa del Sol region, in southern Spain, to reportedly launder the profits from the drug trafficking operation.
Agents identified the alleged leader of the network as a British citizen who was linked to the Costa del Sol where he had been living before he fled to Dubai.
He continued to direct the vast criminal network and drug trafficking operation with another five alleged drug lords from the emirates.
The probe has also identified a Panamanian drugs supplier, also based in Dubai, who was allegedly responsible for the transfer of cocaine from the port of Manzanillo in Panama and who also worked closely with the group of alleged drug lords living in Dubai. EFE