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Belgium arrests 4 in raids on Dubai-linked crime ring

Belgian police arrested four suspects in several raids in Antwerp, linking them to a drug and money-laundering ring believed to be led out of Dubai, authorities said Friday.

A judge ordered three of the suspects, aged 32, 37 and 39, to remain in custody. Two of them appeared in court on Friday.

The raids took place on Tuesday and resulted from information gleaned from Sky ECC, supposedly heavily encrypted phones that law enforcement in several countries cracked a couple of years ago, according to the Antwerp prosecutors’ office.

Police seized money-counting machines, GPS trackers and jammers, and more than 900,000 euros in cash, as well as luxury watches and cars in the searches of 21 addresses.

Prosecutors said the investigation focused on a “financial facilitator” in Antwerp working with the criminal gang, which since the beginning of 2021 is thought to have amassed 15 million euros.

Antwerp’s port is one of the main entry points for narcotics into Europe, and prosecutors said criminal groups operating there are increasingly being controlled from Dubai or Turkey.