European police seize "almost a tonne of cocaine" in Albania
European police have seized almost a tonne of Colombian cocaine in Albania and busted a international drugs network following an operation involving seven countries, Europol said Tuesday.
"The huge consignment of cocaine was diluted in 13 tonnes of palm oil that had been shipped from Colombia, via Antwerp in Belgium before being finally seized in Albania," it said in a statement issued in The Hague, where it is based.
In total, 22 members of an international drugs network, some of them key figures were arrested on March 22, Europol added.
Some 160 kilogrammes of hashish were also recovered.
Led by the Spanish Civil Guard and co-ordinated by Europol, "Operation Salonica" rolled up a criminal organisation made up of Spanish, Moroccan, and Albanian citizens "who were importing and distributing large consignments of Colombian cocaine and Moroccan hashish in Europe."
Europol said the operation started in October 2010, when police learnt of a criminal group dealing drugs on an international level.
"The organisation was subsequently found to be importing large amounts of Colombian cocaine into Europe, mainly via the Belgian port of Antwerp, by concealing the drugs in shipping containers," it said.
During a meeting in Spain, the country's Civil Guard saw the gang members conclude a deal with a Colombian group to transport cocaine in a container allegedly loaded with palm oil.
The consignment was monitored through a complex police operation through Europe and finally to Albania, where the drugs were intercepted and the gang's operation there closed down and the arrests made.
© 2011 AFP