17 arrested as cocaine ring smashed: German police
German police said investigators have smashed a cocaine-smuggling ring, arresting 17 people in Belgium including two ring leaders.
erman police said investigators have smashed a cocaine-smuggling ring, arresting 17 people in Belgium including two ring leaders.
The operation carried out by Belgian police following a tip-off from German investigators led to the arrest of an Albanian, 34, and a Latvian, 35, who are “among the biggest drug bosses in Europe,” German police said in a statement.
Contacted by AFP, Belgian police and prosecutors declined to comment.
Police had stormed around 20 apartments in Antwerp and Brussels last Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Several hundred thousand euros and 187 kilogrammes (411 pounds) of cocaine were seized,” added German police.
Investigators had launched their probe after the discovery in 2017 of 200 kilogrammes of cocaine in cartons of bananas at 10 supermarkets in Bavaria.
The drug had been shipped from Ecuador to Hamburg port before being distributed across Germany.
Fourteen people was convicted over the supermarket haul.
But police had continued their investigations in a bid to track down the masterminds of the trafficking ring.
The two drug bosses arrested are believed to be the chiefs of a Europe-wide Albanian network and played a go-between role between South American drug cartels and European cocaine buyers.
They were based in Belgium, where the port of Antwerp also played a central role in the smuggling.
Antwerp, Europe’s second biggest merchant port, is favoured as an entry point for cocaine smugglers because of its strong shipping links with Latin America.