Some 30 people were arrested this week in Brazil and Spain in an international police operation aimed at dismantling a vast drug trafficking and money laundering network with tentacles in several countries, which transported Bolivian cocaine to Europe, Europol announced this Friday.
The investigation involved the Brazilian Federal Police, the Spanish Civil Guard, the Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (Senad) and US authorities, and was coordinated by Europol.
As explained by the European police agency in a statement, “the criminal organization was able to make several shipments of cocaine of several tons to Europe” every few months, thanks to a distribution network based in Spain.
Most of the arrests were made in the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Santos and Volta Redonda, and there were also seven detainees in Barcelona (northeastern Spain).
The investigation revealed a production infrastructure in Bolivia, with logistics and supply lines in Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, Europol said.
One of the residences raided
The cocaine was shipped in sea containers and communications were made via SKY ECC, an encrypted message system used by drug traffickers that was suppressed in 2021.
A network of companies was also created to allow imports and money laundering.
The operation also uncovered a distribution network in the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Valencia (east), in charge of receiving cocaine shipments and circulating them in the European market.
Brazilian and Spanish authorities intercepted some of these shipments and identified several companies involved in the criminal network.
The investigation made it possible to confiscate drugs, vehicles, weapons, cash and block bank accounts.
Weapon seized by Europol
As part of this investigation, since September 2020, Belgian, Brazilian, Italian, Dutch and Spanish authorities have seized 10 tons of cocaine and 1.85 million euros ($2 million), The Hague-based Europol said.