UAE helps bust cocaine ‘super cartel’

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Coordinated raids were carried out across Europe and the UAE to arrest 49 drug kingpins who had come together to form what was known as a ‘super cartel’ which controlled around one third of the cocaine trade in Europe, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, has lauded the joint international efforts between the Ministry of Interior in the United Arab Emirates- represented by the Dubai Police General Command, and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation ‘Europol’, law enforcement of Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and the United States of America, which contributed to the success of Operation ‘Desert Light’ that led to arresting 49 drug kingpins and members of a prolific transnational criminal network involved in large-scale drugs trafficking and money laundering.

The drugpins considered as high-value targets by Europol had come together to form what was known as a ‘super cartel’ which controlled around one third of the cocaine trade in Europe, the Europol said in a statement.

These arrests are the culmination of parallel investigations run in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE with the support of Europol into the activities of this prolific criminal network involved in large-scale drugs trafficking and money laundering.

The scale of cocaine importation into Europe under the suspects’ control and command was massive and over 30 tonnes of drugs were seized by law enforcement over the course of the investigations.

Lt. Gen. Sheikh Saif attributed the success of Op ‘Desert Light’ to the fruitful international cooperation efforts amongst the participating countries in combating transnational money laundering and drug trafficking crimes.

He further reaffirmed the UAE’s keenness to maintain active communication channels with various police agencies worldwide to ensure the world’s safety and security.

Lt. Gen. Sheikh Saif also confirmed that the global joint efforts in combating money laundering are in line with the UAE’s National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism, praising the successful coordination between all strategic partners and international police agencies in combating transnational crime and organised crime syndicates.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, the Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said that Operation ‘Desert Light’ is another testimony to the UAE’s tireless efforts in combating money laundering crimes and clamping down on organised criminal networks by utilising strong international security coordination and cooperation.

He indicated that the real-time coordination among all the partners involved ensured swift tactical decisions and attributed to achieving this qualitative achievement, arresting the high-value targets, and dismantling their criminal infrastructure and network.

Lt. Gen. Al Marri explained the Operation is the culmination of parallel investigations run in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE with the support of Europol into the activities of this prolific criminal network involved in large-scale drug trafficking between Latin America and Europe and money laundering crimes.

This coordinated clampdown sends a strong message to criminals seeking sanctuary from law enforcement, the Europol said in a statement.

Coordination with UAE

Earlier in September, Europol and the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates took an important step in enhancing their cooperation. A Liaison Officer Agreement was signed between the two, allowing UAE law enforcement liaison officers to be deployed to Europol’s headquarters in the Netherlands.

A liaison officer from the Ministry of Interior of the UAE has already joined the network of more than 250 liaison officers from over 50 countries and organisations with a permanent representation at Europol.

“This unique approach to international police cooperation has positioned Europol as the place where crucial intelligence emerges with law enforcement from countries across the world working side by side to fight the most dangerous criminal networks,” Europol statement added.

Global cooperation

In the framework of intelligence activities underway with its operational counterparts, Europol developed reliable intelligence concerning a drug trafficking cartel flooding Europe with cocaine. The main targets, who used encrypted communications to organise the shipments, were identified in the participating authorities.

Europol has since then hosted multiple coordination meetings in the past 2 years in order to bring together the different countries working on the same targets to establish a joint strategy to bring down the whole network. More than 10 operational meetings took place at Europol in this period.

In addition, Europol has been provided continuous intelligence development and analysis to support the field investigators.  During the action, Europol facilitated the real-time coordination among all  the partners involved, ensuring swift tactical decisions to adjust the strategy as required.

Eurojust provided cross-border judicial support to the French and Belgian authorities regarding seven arrests in both countries and organised four coordination meetings to prepare for these actions.

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