The European Union Police Agency, Europol, has tracked down and arrested the head and members of a drug cartel, who were known for controlling about a third of Europe’s cocaine supply. The operation which was tagged “Operation Desert Light” was organized by Europol, and 49 people have been arrested across six different European countries.
The individual who was suspected of spear heading this operation is said to be a British national and according to the Spain’s Guardia Civil, the suspect fled to Dubai after escaping an arrest from the police in Spain. The report further stated that he continued to manage the affairs of the drug dealing operation while controlling the cartel from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
An unknown Europol source revealed that, another main suspect was detained by the Europol. The suspect is a Dutch man who allegedly has links to a high -profiled Dutch crime guru known as Ridouan Taghi. The Dutch prosecutors stated that they will request the extradition of the suspects from the UAE.
These suspects now face accusations of large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering and over 30tonnes (30,000 kg) of drugs were confiscated during the two- year -old investigation which was carried out, according to Europol. There was a cooperation between Europol and the authorities of Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and UAE.
Europol disclosed that, the arrested suspects included six “high valued” targets who were mostly wanted by the international police. It also mentioned that, the “drug pins” had formed a “prolific criminal network involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.”
The Operation And The Cooperation
The scale of the drug operation according to Europol was a massive one and it is one of the cases where the police had to hack encrypted phones used by the cartel to undertake their operations. Cocaine imported from South America through the Netherlands was the main focus of the investigation and most of the arrests were made there last year.
Europol also mentioned that, the other arrests were made earlier this month, between the 8th -19th of November, when coordinated raids were taking place across the six countries of the cartel’s drug operations. It is unclear as to whether any items and assets were seized, but a Youtube video on Europol’s page showed a team of investigators and trained dogs searching a house filled with luxury cars.
Operation Desert Light was successful as a result of the cooperation between some countries. According to Europol, 13 of the suspects were arrested by Spain, with two high valued targets arrested in Dubai, 6 suspects were arrested by France with two high valued suspects arrested in Dubai, 10suspects were arrested in Belgium and 14 were arrested by The Netherlands (in the year 2021) with two high valued suspects arrested in Dubai.
Europol has organized multiple coordination meetings over the past two years in order to mobilize the various countries working on the same targets to establish a strategy to bring down the whole cartel. More than ten operational meetings were held by Europol during the period. Europol has indirectly sent a strong caution to the drug lords out there who seek sanctuary from the law, through the success of their recent operation.