"Violent Balkan criminal cell" taken down in Netherlands, other EU countries; 37 arrests
With raids in the Netherlands and six other EU countries, the police took down a “violent Balkan criminal cell” involved in drug and firearm trafficking on Wednesday, Europol reported. The police arrested 37 suspects, including the alleged ringleader of this criminal gang.
In the Netherlands, the police discovered a garage in Rotterdam that the criminal organization used to stash cocaine, Europol said. Authorities also raided a prison cell in Belgium and several premises in Croatia, Germany, Slovenia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
During the raids, the police seized over 15 kilograms of cocaine, 11 kilograms of heroin, 3 kilograms of amphetamine, 7 kilograms of cannabis, and 10 kilograms of hashish. They also found and confiscated 148,000 euros in cash, 18 firearms, 2,512 pieces of ammunition, 500 grams of TNT with remote detonators, law enforcement uniforms, and fake IDs.
The alleged leader of this cartel is a national of Bosnia & Herzegovina who is currently serving a four-year-long prison sentence in Italy. “The investigators were able to uncover how this individual continued to orchestrate his gang’s criminal activities from his prison cell,” Europol said. “From there, he is believed to have regularly given orders and instructions to his subordinates on matters related to the trafficking of drugs and firearms.”
The global sweep followed a complex investigation led by the Croatian police in the framework of the Operational Taskforce “Balkan Cartel.” This task force also recently led to the takedown of “the biggest drug trafficking criminal organization in the Balkan region.”