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Cocaine 'super-cartel' fronted by British drugs lord busted with 49 arrested across Europe and Dubai

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A massive drug ‘super-cartel’ that controlled a third of Europe’s cocaine trade has been busted by police, with 49 people arrested in various countries including France and Dubai.

The huge international operation seized 30 tonnes of cocaine, along with the gang’s supercars, luxury villas and heaps of cash in the “historic” raids.

Spanish police say the leader of the organization is a “British national” who fled his former base on the Costa del Sol for Dubai, where organized crime group Kinahan is based, after an attempted kidnapping. He was later arrested in Dubai.

Another Briton was arrested on the Costa Del Sol, a Spanish police source said, as officers raided a string of villas in Marbella, Madrid and Barcelona.

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A massive drug ‘super-cartel’ that controlled a third of Europe’s cocaine trade has been busted by police, with 49 people arrested in various countries including France and Dubai. Pictured: Police officers from the Spanish Civil Guard raid a mansion in Spain

The international effort also involved arrests in France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, the EU police agency said in a statement.  Pictured: Police arrest a suspect in Spain

The international effort also involved arrests in France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, the EU police agency said in a statement. Pictured: Police arrest a suspect in Spain

The huge international operation seized 30 tonnes of cocaine, along with the gang's supercars, luxury villages and heaps of cash in the raids

The huge international operation seized 30 tonnes of cocaine, along with the gang’s supercars, luxury villages and heaps of cash in the “historic” raids.

The international effort also involved arrests in France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, the EU police agency said in a statement.

“Drugstores considered high-value targets by Europol had banded together to form what was called a ‘super cartel’ which controlled around a third of the cocaine trade in Europe,” Europol said.

“The scale of the importation of cocaine into Europe under the control and command of the suspects was massive and over 30 tonnes of drugs were seized by law enforcement during investigations.”

Europol said Dubai had arrested two “high-value” suspects linked to the Netherlands, two others linked to Spain and two others linked to France.

“One of the Dutch suspects is a very big fish,” a Europol source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Ten people were arrested in Belgium, six in France and 13 in Spain. Fourteen other people were arrested in 2021 in the Netherlands as part of the same operation, Europol said.

Spanish police say more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) were confiscated in a raid on a series of luxury villas in Spain, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches.

The Civil Guard said some of the vehicles were worth around 300,000 euros (£258,000).

Spanish police say more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) were confiscated in the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches.

Spanish police say more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) were confiscated in the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches.

Footage released by the Civil Guard today shows heavily armed officers forcing their way into mansions where they made some of the arrests and led away handcuffed suspects.

Footage released by the Civil Guard today shows heavily armed officers forcing their way into mansions where they made some of the arrests and led away handcuffed suspects.

The Spanish part of the international police operation resulted in the arrest of 15 people

The Spanish part of the international police operation resulted in the arrest of 15 people

Footage released by the Civil Guard today shows heavily armed officers forcing their way into mansions where they made some of the arrests and led away handcuffed suspects.

In Spain, the Civil Guard said its operation, dubbed Operation Faukas, began with the seizure of 700 kilos of cocaine in the port of Valencia in March 2020.

A spokesperson for the Spanish force said: “During the investigation, officers discovered that a criminal organization was smuggling containers containing cocaine through the ports of Barcelona, ​​Valencia and Algeciras.

“They also established that a complex real estate business had been organized on the Costa del Sol to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking profits.

“The leader of this organization has been identified as a Briton linked to the Costa del Sol who had to leave Spain and move to Dubai after being the subject of an attempted kidnapping.

“From Dubai, he continued to direct and coordinate the criminal activities of the organization, while maintaining contacts and business interests with the rest of the drug lords based in this Emirati city.”

Raids and arrests took place across Europe and in Dubai between 8 and 19 November.

Spanish police call the operation, coordinated by Europol as part of an international operation dubbed Desert Light,

Spanish police call the operation, coordinated by Europol as part of an international operation dubbed Desert Light, “historic”. Pictured: Spanish police officers seize weapons

The Civil Guard said three of the suspects detained in Operation Faukas, Spain's end to Operation Desert Light, are considered high-value targets by Europol.  Pictured: Motorbikes at properties in Spain

The Civil Guard said three of the suspects detained in Operation Faukas, Spain’s end to Operation Desert Light, are considered high-value targets by Europol. Pictured: Motorbikes at properties in Spain

Spanish police say more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) were confiscated in the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches.

Spanish police say more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) were confiscated in the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches.

Spanish police call the operation, coordinated by Europol as part of an international operation dubbed Desert Light, “historic”.

The Spanish Civil Guard spokesman added: “With this international effort from all the agencies involved, a strong message is being sent to criminal organisations, in the sense that no place is safe for those trying to escape. to justice.”

They continued: “From Dubai, the leaders of this mega cartel controlled and directed the criminal activities of the various cells with the belief that they lived in a sanctuary where they felt untouchable.”

The Civil Guard said three of the suspects detained in Operation Faukas, Spain’s end to Operation Desert Light, are considered high-value targets by Europol.

It was not immediately clear this morning how many British nationals were among the 49 people detained.

One of the detainees in Dubai is believed to be a Panamanian national who supplied the cocaine.

A spokesperson said: ‘He is believed to be responsible for smuggling the drugs into the port of Manzanillo in Panama, which also had ties to the rest of the drug lords in Dubai.

“The criminal organization based in Spain had two differentiated structures, the part in charge of the extraction of drugs in seaports and the other in charge of money laundering through real estate companies.

“The first part was located between the provinces of Barcelona and Malaga and had a direct influence on the port of Barcelona.

“It was made up of two Bulgarians, one of whom was a high-value target for Europol, and three people of Spanish origin, including a worker from the port of Barcelona who was responsible for the entry and exit of vehicles. .

“The other part consisted of people trusted by the main leader of the criminal organization.

“He was based on the Costa del Sol, the nerve center of his financial activities where they had purchased property valued at over €24m (£20m) and laundered their drug money.”

Dutch prosecutors have said they will seek the extradition of the suspects from the United Arab Emirates.

One of the suspects was a 37-year-old man with dual Dutch and Moroccan nationality, who was detained for allegedly importing thousands of kilos of cocaine into the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021.

“These are serious criminal offenses related to international drug trafficking, mainly from South America via the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam,” the Dutch public prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The other was a 40-year-old Dutch-Bosnian national, he added.

The arrests are expected to increase pressure on the Kinahan Cartel, led by Dublin-born Daniel Kinahan.

Daniel, his father Christopher and his brother Christy are believed to be living in Dubai after fleeing the Costa del Sol.

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