45 arrested in biggest crackdown against drug ring smuggling cocaine from Brazil into Europe
Some 180 house searches were executed, resulting in the arrest of 45 suspects.
The investigation uncovered that this drug trafficking network was responsible for the annual importation of at least 45 tonnes of cocaine into the main European seaports, with profits exceeding €100 million over the course of 6 months.
This international sting, led by the Portuguese, Belgian and Brazilian authorities, was carried out simultaneously by agencies from three different continents, with coordination efforts facilitated by Europol.
Results In Brief:
- 45 arrests in Brazil (38), Belgium (4), Spain (1) and Dubai (2)
- 179 house searches
- Over €12 million in cash seized in Portugal, €300 000 in cash seized in Belgium and over R$1 million and US$169 000 in cash seized in Brazil
- 70 luxury vehicles seized in Brazil, Belgium and Spain and 37 aircrafts seized in Brazil
- 163 houses seized in Brazil worth in excess of R$132 million, 2 houses seized in Spain worth €4 million, and two apartments seized in Portugal worth €2.5 million
- Financial assets of 10 individuals frozen in Spain
In the framework of intelligence activities underway with its operational counterparts, Europol developed reliable intelligence concerning the international drug trafficking and money laundering activities of a Brazilian organised crime network operating in several EU countries.
The criminal syndicate had direct contact with drug cartels in Brazil and other South American source countries who were responsible for the preparation and the shipments of cocaine in maritime containers bound to major European seaports.
The scale of cocaine importation from Brazil to Europe under their control and command is massive and over 52 tonnes of cocaine were seized by law enforcement over the course of the investigation. ■