Six "high value" British, Dutch, Spanish, and French men of the "super-cartel" known as "the Drug Lords," which controlled 30% of the cocaine trade in Europe, have been detained in Dubai.
Additionally, 15 persons were detained in Spain, where investigators seized €24 million worth of assets. A British national who was arrested in the UAE is referred to by Spanish police as the "head of the organization."
The "Desert Light" operation, which involved police from Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Dubai collaborating with their American counterparts, was "taken down" this month with the seizure of more than 30 tonnes of cocaine valued at up to €400 million.
The so-called "European super-cartel" or "the Drug Lords" had connections to infamous mafia figures and a network that stretched over all of Europe.
The crime gang's operations are expected to have been valued up to €4.3 billion in cocaine smuggling alone in 2020, according to Europol statistics. Additionally, the police seized valuables worth tens of millions of euros, such as expensive homes, automobiles, and motorcycles.
A kidnapping attempt forced the British guy, who had previously lived on the Costa del Sol, to flee to Dubai in 2019. They said that he continued to establish relationships and drug-trafficking operations in Dubai with the other Drug Lords based there.
According to Spanish police, "In Dubai, the leaders of the mega-cartel controlled and directed the criminal activities of the different cells, convinced that it was a sanctuary where they felt untouchable and allowed them to maintain a high standard of living."
"The drug pins considered high-value targets, who had come together to form what was known as a ‘super-cartel’ which controlled around one third of the cocaine trade in Europe, [have been] taken down. The scale of cocaine importation into Europe under the suspects’ control and command was massive," according to Europol.
Beginning with intercepted and decoded messages from "cryptophones"—mobile devices designed specifically for secure communications—the inquiry was launched. According to police, "Europol developed reliable intelligence concerning a drug-trafficking cartel flooding Europe with cocaine."
Police refer to one of the Dutch suspects, Edin Gacanin, 40, also known as "Tito," who has dual Bosnian and Dutch citizenship, as "a huge catch" who was planning to import eight tonnes of raw ingredients for the synthesis of amphetamine in addition to importing substantial quantities of cocaine.
He is said to have been in charge of the "Dino gang" for many years and to have had close ties to Ridouan Taghi, the imprisoned Dutch mafia leader who is charged with a number of high-profile murders.
Gacanin is suspected of bringing in 1.8 tonnes of cocaine through the Hamburg port in 2020 and is charged with organizing a shipment of nearly 750 kg that was transported to Rotterdam via South Africa.
He is well-known for his international ties, including those with Raffaele Imperiale, an Italian mafia suspect who was detained last year on suspicion of selling drugs for the Camorra, and Daniel Kinahan, the sanctioned Irish crime boss.
Gacanin and Taghi, according to US intelligence, both attended Kinahan's lavish wedding at Dubai's Burj Al Arab complex.
Taghi, 44, is suspected of ordering the deaths of three people: a key crown witness in the trial against him, a senior prosecution lawyer and Peter de Vries, a prominent Dutch journalist and justice campaigner.
The other suspect is Zohair B, 37, also known as "Beertje," who is accused of smuggling thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021 as well as participating in a criminal organization, laundering money, corruption, and possessing firearms. Zohair B has dual Dutch and Moroccan nationality.
The Dutch component of the gang mostly transported cocaine from Latin America through Rotterdam in the Netherlands or Antwerp in Belgium for distribution throughout Europe.
The three high-value targets — two in Dubai and one in Malaga — were among the 15 people who were detained in Spain as a result of the operation. 2020 saw the police in Valencia confiscate a container the gang was using to carry 698kg of cocaine.
Police learned that the organization had entered Spain by importing cocaine through Barcelona, Valencia, and Algeciras over the course of their investigation. To hide the proceeds of their drug trafficking, they had established a sophisticated network of real estate holdings nearby.
The major drug supplier was tracked down by the Guardia Civil. He was a Panamanian citizen living in Dubai who shipped cocaine from the port of Manzanillo, Panama, and kept in touch with the other drug lords there.
By fLEXI tEAM