1,500 Belgian police swoop in 200 dawn raids in a major operation against cocaine-smuggling gangs
Belgian police conducted some 200 raids simultaneously on Tuesday morning in a coordinated strike against cocaine- and drug-smuggling gangs focused on the port of Antwerp.
The raids, which began around 5am and involved some 1,500 officers, were a joint operation organized by the Belgian prosecutor’s office and prosecutors in Antwerp. The city is home to Europe’s second-busiest port and is often the scene of police and customs operations. It is regularly used as an entry point for criminal gangs importing narcotics into Europe.
Officials say Tuesday’s raids had been planned for more than two years and mainly targeted cocaine smugglers and the organized criminal gangs that support them. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said that, although the drug gangs had international links, only Belgian authorities were involved in the operation.
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As well as Antwerp, police also swooped in properties in Brussels, Limburg and Wallonia, seizing weapons and hundreds of thousands in euro.
Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported that police were acting on information gleaned from encrypted phones preferred by criminal gangs to communicate securely.
In 2020, Belgian authorities discovered 65.5 tons of cocaine being shipped through Antwerp port, with volumes increasing 14-fold in the past eight years.
Last year, officials from Belgium and three other countries broke up a gang with South American ties that shipped hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine into Europe – a probe that started with the discovery of 2.8 tons of narcotics stashed away in a container passing through the port.
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Source:RT World News