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Balkan Cocaine Cartel Dismantled Following Arrests in Spain

A major Balkan cocaine cartel has been dismantled after four individuals were arrested in Spain, marking the final step in a Spanish-led operation, officials announced.

Balkan Cocaine Cartel Dismantled Following Arrests in Spain

The EU law enforcement agency Europol revealed that this final operation was the culmination of a three-year-long action targeting a criminal network involved in large-scale drug trafficking from South America to the EU.

On June 12, four individuals were apprehended in Spain, and subsequent searches of various residences resulted in the seizure of luxury goods, a firearm, and €109,000 in cash.

This sting operation, coordinated by Europol’s Operational Taskforce, was linked to numerous national and international investigations led by Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Serbia, and Türkiye.

Europol stated that this marked the end of a series of actions against the gang, which primarily comprised nationals from Balkan countries.

In total, 40 individuals have been arrested across Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Serbia, Spain, and Türkiye, with three identified as ‘high value targets.’ Approximately eight tonnes of cocaine have been seized in various operations in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain. Additionally, assets worth €12.5 million and $3 million have been seized in Brazil, while over €50 million was frozen in Serbia.

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Europol described the criminal network as orchestrating “multi-tonne cocaine trafficking from Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador to the EU.”

“The suspects arranged the trafficking into the EU through maritime shipments going via logistical hubs in West Africa and the Canary Islands,” Europol detailed. “Once the drugs had reached the EU, the suspects used handling centres in Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy and Spain to further distribute cocaine across Europe.”

The leaders of the drug trafficking organization were temporarily based in Türkiye and Dubai, Europol reported. “From there, they operated the control and command centres of the criminal network,” it said.

Investigations into this network highlighted a significant threat posed by the criminals’ ability to “collaborate closely and deploy criminal associates on a long-term basis on locations to facilitate their large-scale drug trafficking operations.”

Europol emphasized that the cooperation between nine national forces—Brazil, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates—was crucial in dismantling the network.



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