Three Tons Of Cocaine Worth $108M Seized On Narco-Submarine Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Law enforcement authorities from six different countries have joined forces to take down a “super cartel” responsible for trafficking a third of cocaine traded in Europe. Europol said about 49 suspects have been arrested during the investigation, as more raids are conducted across Europe and the United Arab Emirates. The latest raid took place on Nov. 8 and 9. The operation dubbed “Desert Light” targeted both the command-and-control center as well as the logistical drugs trafficking infrastructure in Europe.

Reports from Associated Press said over 30 metric tons (33 tons) of drugs were seized during the investigations conducted in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, and the UAE with Europol backing the operation. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration was said to have had a hand in bringing down the organization, which allegedly had money laundering as one of its business ventures, Europol said.

The scale of cocaine importation into Europe is believed to be massive under the suspects’ control as they used encrypted communications to plan out their shipment of narcotics. The Netherlands reportedly has seen the majority of arrests as 14 suspects were arrested back in 2021, and six more “high-value targets” were arrested in Dubai.

Dutch police said one of the suspects arrested in Dubai, a 37-year-old man of both Dutch and Moroccan nationality, had allegedly imported thousands of kilos of cocaine into the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021. He was also prosecuted for laundering large amounts of money and possession of firearms. Authorities said they began probing the suspect after cracking the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC, a popular platform among criminal businesses.

Another suspect, this time a 40-year-old Dutch-Bosnian citizen, was also arrested in Dubai following the interception of messages from Sky ECC. The man was suspected of importing cocaine into Europe, including raw materials needed for the production of amphetamines.

The record number of cocaine seized in Europe is at an all-time high. The availability of the drug has never been easier with low prices, despite having extremely high purity. More than 214 tons of cocaine were seized in the continent in 2020, a 6% increase from the previous year. Experts from the European Monitoring Center has predicted the number to reach 330 tons this year.

Representational image of cocaine and marijuana
U.S. Coast Guard personnel walk among wrapped packages of cocaine and marijuana on the deck of the Cutter James before offloading them at Port Everglades on February 17, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Coast Guard offloaded 54,500 pounds of cocaine and 15,800 pounds of marijuana from multiple Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Sea interdictions. The drugs were worth approximately $1.06 billion. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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