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

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

A huge drugs 'super-cartel' that controlled a third of Europe's cocaine trade has been busted by police officers, with 49 people arrested in various c

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

The huge international operation seized 30 tonnes of cocaine, as well as the gang’s supercars, luxury villas and piles of cash in the ‘historic’ raids. 

Spanish police said the leader of the organisation is a ‘British national’ who fled his former base on the Costa del Sol for Dubai, where the Kinahan Organised Crime Group are based, after a kidnap attempt. He was later arrested in Dubai.

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

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

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

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

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

The huge international operation seized 30 tonnes of cocaine, as well as the gang's supercars, luxury villages and piles of cash in the 'historic' raids

The huge international operation seized 30 tonnes of cocaine, as well as the gang's supercars, luxury villages and piles of cash in the 'historic' raids

The huge international operation seized 30 tonnes of cocaine, as well as the gang’s supercars, luxury villages and piles of cash in the ‘historic’ raids

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

‘The drugpins considered as high-value targets by Europol had come together to form what was known as a ‘super cartel’ which controlled around one third of the cocaine trade in Europe,’ Europol said.

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

Europol said Dubai had arrested two ‘high-value’ suspects who are linked to the Netherlands, another two linked to Spain and two more connected to France.

‘One of the Dutch suspects is an extremely big fish,’ a Europol source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Ten people were arrested in Belgium, six in France and 13 in Spain. Another 14 people were arrested in 2021 in the Netherlands as part of the same operation, Europol said. 

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

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

The Spanish police said more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) was confiscated during the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches

The Spanish police said more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) was confiscated during the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches

The Spanish police said more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) was confiscated during the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches

Footage released by the Civil Guard today showed heavily-armed officers forcing their way into mansions where they made some of the arrests and taking away suspects in handcuffs

Footage released by the Civil Guard today showed heavily-armed officers forcing their way into mansions where they made some of the arrests and taking away suspects in handcuffs

Footage released by the Civil Guard today showed heavily-armed officers forcing their way into mansions where they made some of the arrests and taking away suspects in handcuffs

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

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

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

Footage released by the Civil Guard today showed heavily-armed officers forcing their way into mansions where they made some of the arrests and taking away suspects in handcuffs.

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

A spokesman for the Spanish force said: ‘During the investigation officers discovered a criminal organisation was smuggling containers with cocaine inside through the ports of Barcelona, Valencia and Algeciras.

‘They also established that a complex real estate business had been organised on the Costa del Sol to launder the proceeds of the profits obtained from the drug-smuggling.

‘The leader of this organisation was identified as a British man linked to the Costa del Sol who had to leave Spain and move to Dubai after he was the subject of a kidnap attempt.

‘From Dubai he continued to direct and coordinate the organisation’s criminal activities, while at the same time maintaining drug-trafficking contacts and business interests with the rest of the drug lords based in this emirate city.’  

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

Spanish police are calling the operation, coordinated by Europol as part of an international operation codenamed Desert Light, 'historic.' Pictured: Spanish police officers seize weapons

Spanish police are calling the operation, coordinated by Europol as part of an international operation codenamed Desert Light, 'historic.' Pictured: Spanish police officers seize weapons

Spanish police are calling the operation, coordinated by Europol as part of an international operation codenamed Desert Light, ‘historic.’ Pictured: Spanish police officers seize weapons 

The Civil Guard say three of the suspects held as part of Operation Faukas, the Spanish end of the Desert Light Operation, are considered High-Value Targets by Europol. Pictured: Motorbikes at the properties in Spain

The Civil Guard say three of the suspects held as part of Operation Faukas, the Spanish end of the Desert Light Operation, are considered High-Value Targets by Europol. Pictured: Motorbikes at the properties in Spain

The Civil Guard say three of the suspects held as part of Operation Faukas, the Spanish end of the Desert Light Operation, are considered High-Value Targets by Europol. Pictured: Motorbikes at the properties in Spain 

The Spanish police said more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) was confiscated during the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches

The Spanish police said more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) was confiscated during the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches

The Spanish police said more than 500,000 euros (£431,000) was confiscated during the raid, along with three weapons, high-end cars and luxury watches

Spanish police are calling the operation, coordinated by Europol as part of an international operation codenamed Desert Light, ‘historic.’

The Spanish Civil Guard spokesman added: ‘With this international effort by all the agencies involved, a firm message is being sent to criminal organisations, in the sense that no place is safe for those who try to avoid justice.’

They continued: ‘From Dubai the leaders of this mega cartel controlled and directed the criminal activities of the different cells with the conviction that they were living in a sanctuary where they felt untouchable.’

The Civil Guard say three of the suspects held as part of Operation Faukas, the Spanish end of the Desert Light Operation, are considered High-Value Targets by Europol.

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

One of the detainees in Dubai is thought to be a Panamanian national who was supplying the cocaine.

A spokesman said: ‘He is allegedly responsible for the introduction of the drugs in the Port of Manzanillo in Panama who also had links with the rest of the drug barons in Dubai.

‘The criminal organisation based in Spain had two differentiated structures, the part tasked with the extraction of the drugs in maritime ports and the other responsible for laundering money through real estate firms.

‘The first part was situated between the provinces of Barcelona and Malaga and had a direct influence on Barcelona Port.

‘It consisted of two Bulgarians, one of whom was a High-Value Target for Europol, and three people of Spanish origin including a Barcelona port worker who was responsible for the entry and exit of vehicles.

‘The other part was composed of people who were trusted by the main leader of the criminal organisation.

‘It was based on the Costa del Sol, the nerve centre for its financial activities where they had bought property valued at more than 24 million euros (£20 million) and laundered their drugs money.’

Dutch prosecutors said they would request 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 held for allegedly importing thousands of kilos of cocaine into the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021.

‘These are serious criminal offences pertaining to international drug trafficking, mainly from South America via the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam,’ the Dutch public prosecution service said in a statement.

The other was a 40-year-old dual Dutch-Bosnian national, it said.

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

Daniel, his father Christopher and brother Christy are understood to be living in Dubai having fled the Costa del Sol.

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