Belgian, Dutch authorities break up major drug cartel

16th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Belgian and Dutch authorities said on Monday they have broken up a drug cartel operating out of villas on the border between the two countries after a three-year investigation.

BRUSSELS - "This criminal organisation was one of the top five drug trafficking networks in Europe," said spokeswoman for the Belgian federal prosecution Lieve Pellens.

Using information from an agent who infiltrated the gang, 12 searches were carried out on Sunday in Belgium and 17 in the Netherlands, Pellens said.

Four Dutch citizens and one Belgian were arrested at a barbecue in a luxury camp-site at the Belgian town of Lommel, near the Dutch border. One Dutch suspect was later released.

Seven arrests were also made in the Netherlands.

Pellens said that in the Netherlands the gang used real estate agencies and car rental services to launder money while using their proximity to the border to remain undetected by Dutch tax authorities.

She said the group was "responsible for exporting a lot of different drugs to Britain, such as hashish, amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy."

Arms, antiques and a Mercedes worth 340,000 euros were found during the searches, although no drugs were uncovered.

"It's not surprising, these people don't keep drugs at home," Pellens said.

She said authorities had in recent months seized drugs related to the case worth 40 million euros.


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