Dozens arrested in international cocaine trafficking case

Police in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Spain, and Paraguay arrested dozens of suspects and simultaneously raided a large number of buildings in a major international cocaine trafficking investigation. The investigation started after police intercepted 23,000 kilograms of cocaine, worth 600 million euros, in the ports of Hamburg and Antwerp last year. The drugs were destined for the Netherlands. 

Three of the arrested suspects are Dutch, the police said on Thursday. They are between the ages of 26 and 29 and come from Den Bosch and Schiedam. The Dutch police raided eight locations in the Netherlands. Officers found 3 million euros in cash in a house in Schiedam. The police also seized three homes, including a villa worth 5 million euros in Spain.

The investigation started after authorities discovered 16,000 kilograms of cocaine in the port of Hamburg in February last year. The drugs were hidden in three containers of tin filler from Paraguay. The investigation led the police to a shipment on its way to Antwerp. A week and a half later, customs intercepted 7,000 kilograms of cocaine in this port. The police arrested a 28-year-old man from Vlaardingen, whose name was on the containers’ waybills. He has since been sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.

The Dutch police then went through the millions of messages they intercepted from the cracked messaging service Sky ECC, which criminals used to send encrypted messages. They shared this information with authorities in other Europol countries, which helped them identify the suspects. 

The investigation is ongoing. 

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