A Huge Cocaine Cartel Finally Busted in Europe
Culminating a two-year investigation dubbed “Desert Light”, the EU’s Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) has busted at least partially one of the “super cartels” inundating Europe with cocaine. Between Nov. 8 and 19, coordinated raids were carried out by the relevant authorities of Spain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, the Emirates and the United States.
A breakthrough in the investigation occurred in 2021, when Belgian and French law enforcement agencies managed to crack the encrypted communication technology Sky-ECC used to organize the shipments, which allowed access to highly reliable intelligence.
Forty-nine suspects, including several “high value” targets (drug kings), have been arrested in Spain, Dubai, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. One was a 40-year-old dual Dutch-Bosnian national, suspected of smuggling 1.8 tons of cocaine via the German port of Hamburg in 2020, and of preparing to import, via Antwerp, 8 tons of raw materials for producing amphetamines. Over 30 tons of cocaine were seized during the arrests.
This operation is the first serious response to the fact that two founding member states of the EU, The Netherlands and Belgium (which hosts both EU and NATO headquarters) have become virtual “narco states” over the past two years. Repentants, witnesses, investigators, journalists, magistrates and lawyers have been murdered, and grenade attacks occur in broad daylight in Antwerp. The city’s giant port has become the main entry point for cocaine into Europe. One kilo of cocaine worth $1,000 dollars in Peru is worth $30,000 in Antwerp, which means that 1 ton of cocaine (cut three times for retail sales) can bring in €90 million. Thus, the market value of the 90 tons seized by the Belgian customs in 2021 amounts to €8.1 billion! If seizures amount to only 12% of the total imports, that would put the entire volume close to €110 billion! Until recently, only 1% of the containers were scan-controlled.
As the dope trade keeps growing, so does the violence. In 2020, the Dutch police discovered a torture chamber in one container, complete with a dentist’s chair, straps and sharp instruments. Over the past months, several plots were uncovered of the “Mocro Mafia” (Dutch-Moroccan), at the center of a “super cartel”, a joint-venture operation composed of Italians, Irishmen and Bosnians, that shared market operations for over one third of the EU’s cocaine market. Ridouan Taghi, one of the godfathers of the “Mocro Mafia” is currently on trial in Amsterdam.
According to law enforcement agencies, the dope cartels plan to kidnap high profile public figures, to be traded off for the liberation of Taghi and other mobsters. Among their targets, a member of the Dutch royal family, the Dutch Prime Minister and in Sept., the Belgian Justice Minister, who has declared war on the cocaine cartels. They are still alive (under heavy police and army protection), but the clock is ticking.