Police have demolished a huge drug “super-cartel” that was in charge of about a third of the cocaine trade in Europe, detaining 49 people across several nations, including six key suspects in Dubai, according to Europol on Monday.
The European Union’s police agency said in a statement that the global operation known as “Desert Light” netted 30 tonnes of the substance and resulted in arrests in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Spain.
A Dutch “big fish” who purportedly had connections to reputed Dutch crime leader Ridouan Taghi, who was himself apprehended in the Gulf emirate in 2019, was caught as a result of the crackdown in Dubai.
The drug lords, who Europol regarded as high-value targets, banded together to form a “super cartel” that was in charge of around one-third of the cocaine trade in Europe, according to Europol.
Over 30 tonnes of cocaine were confiscated by law enforcement during the course of the investigations, demonstrating the size of the cocaine importation into Europe under the suspects’ control and command.
The Dutch suspect forged an alliance in Dubai with drug gang bosses who were also apprehended from Ireland and Italy. Two “high-value” suspects linked to France, two to the Netherlands, and another two to Spain were detained in Dubai, according to Europol.
Six people were detained in France, 13 in Spain, and 10 in Belgium. The Hague-based organisation reported that 14 additional individuals were detained in the Netherlands in 2021 as part of the same operation.
A Europol source said, speaking under the condition of anonymity, “One of the Dutch suspects is an extremely big fish.” He was equally, if not more, significant than Taghi.