Authorities in Belgium and three other countries busted a drug trafficking network backed by corrupt police officials after found trying to ship worth hundreds of millions of cocaine into Western Europe.
A report by Associated Press and was picked up by Washington Post on Friday said that police seized a total of 3.5 tons of imported cocaine—including 2.8 tons of cocaine found last year—in the port city of Antwerp.
Some 2 million euros in cash were also confiscated during the operation.
Meanwhile, the drug bust led to the arrest of three police officials alongside a retired gendarme. A lawyer and a doctor were suspected of taking part in the network.
Antwerp City is one of Europe’s main ports of entry for cocaine as well as trafficking which already brought a surge of violence such as gun battles and grenade attacks.
According to police, the group was connected to four international countries in Europe and South America.
Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said that the operation showed how much drug trafficking was penetrating the society.
“It’s very worrying to see how criminals can get involved in the highest spheres and try to make the legal world dirty with crime money,” he was quoted as telling a news briefing in Brussels.
Apart from the said operation, Belgian authorities conducted 54 raids this week.
Overseas, authorities in Spain, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands conducted a dozen searches to dismantle drug trafficking organisations.
Prosecutors said 29 people were arrested, 16 of which have been charged with money laundering, importing drugs, and participating in a criminal organisation.
In the Netherlands alone, three people were placed in custody before their transfer to Belgium. Another suspect was caught in Spain.
“The quantity we seized can seem gigantic, but it’s infinitely small compared to what really goes through,” Van Leeuw said.
“It’s not only cocaine that is imported. Criminal organisations also lodge themselves in our country, bringing along their violent and ruthless methods,” he added. “’ We have seen what this led to in South American countries.”
PHOTO BY KLEIST BERLIN/FLICKR