New illustration of the geography of criminal networks at work in Europe, on November 8, several arrests conducted under the coordination of Eurojust and Europol, took place in Belgium, Spain, France and Dubai (United Arab Emirates) . They arise within the framework of a joint investigation into a vast traffic of cocaine intended mainly for the French market.
The targeted organization is suspected of having carried out, between January and April 2021, a series of cocaine deliveries from South America and Guyana to the ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Rouen in particular, for a total quantity of 2.1 tons. The drugs, concealed in legal cargo, mainly foodstuffs, had transited for some deliveries through Africa.
The investigations, carried out in France by the Anti-Narcotics Office (Ofast) under the direction of the national jurisdiction for the fight against organized crime, suggest that the network was directed from Dubai by three men, two Moroccans, aged 39 and 41. , who grew up in Belgium, and a Frenchman from Val-de-Marne, already known for their activities in drug trafficking from Dubai.
Two of them were arrested by the Emirati authorities following the issuance of a European arrest warrant on October 20. They are all three considered by the European police as priority targets of interest. They are charged with the crime of leading a group whose purpose is the illicit import, transport, possession, supply, transfer, acquisition or use of narcotics and incur life imprisonment. They are now awaiting extradition.
Abduction and torture
The case is coupled with a dark story of kidnapping. In June 2020, one of the “employees” of the criminal organization, suspected of having tried with accomplices disguised as fake police officers to steal cocaine from a warehouse in Antwerp, was kidnapped and tortured in retaliation. In France, three people were indicted, on November 11, 2022, for counts of importing narcotics in an organized gang, criminal association, kidnapping and kidnapping with an act of torture and barbarism in an organized gang and placed in pre-trial detention. . A fourth man of French nationality and arrested in Spain was handed over to France, then indicted and imprisoned.
This European operation occurs in the context of a cocaine market still in full expansion having made the port of Antwerp its stronghold, and Dubai its rear base. For several months, the Emirati authorities, moderately appreciating being presented as the refuge of global hooliganism, have been trying to give pledges by carrying out arrests demanded by their European counterparts. From Moufide Bouchibi to Hakim Berrebouh, several French nationals, presented as high-ranking traffickers, have been arrested and then extradited in recent months. Other arrests relating to other ongoing investigations in Europe have also taken place in recent weeks in Dubai. On the Belgian side, an extradition convention was signed at the end of 2021.
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