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Eight charged in Sweden over international drug ring

Swedish prosecutors charged eight people Monday suspected of belonging to a drug ring linked to a massive Caribbean cocaine bust in 2010, following a lengthy probe in several European countries.

The eight suspects, whose names were not given, were charged with aggravated narcotics crime, narcotics smuggling and money laundering for crimes committed between 2006 and 2010, Sweden’s international prosecution authority said in a statement.

The charges were especially linked to a record drug bust in June 2010 on a sailboat off Martinique, where police seized some 1.4 tonnes of Colombian cocaine, worth around four billion kronor (450 million euros, $590 million), according to the statement.

A 39-year-old Swede is believed to be the mastermind behind the drug ring, while a 56-year-old man based in the southwestern Swedish town of Gothenburg was the only one onboard the sailboat at the time of the bust, the statement said.

The seized cocaine corresponds to 5.6 million doses, prosecutors said, adding that the criminal group had spent around 115 million kronor between 2007 and 2010 on real estate, businesses and luxury consumption.

A 49-year-old woman related to the suspected mastermind had among other things created a foundation in Switzerland, which was used to hide 36 million kronor.

Swedish police and prosecutors had launched the probe — their biggest ever — into the international drug ring in 2008, cooperating extensively with European Union agencies Eurojust and Europol, as well as with a long line of national authorities, especially in France and Spain.

“That police and prosecutors were able to cooperate over national borders was a prerequisite for getting this far,” Karin Bergstrand at the international prosecution authority said in the statement.

The cooperation had been especially important, she said, in confiscating more 53 million kronor in assets held by the suspected criminals in five different countries.

“This is a hard blow to organised crime and shows that cooperation is the right way to hit the criminals where it hurts the most, by taking their money,” Klas Friberg, the head of Sweden’s national crime unit, said in the statement.

Some of the suspects could also face money laundering charges in Spain, since many of the seized assets are located there, according to the statement.