German Authorities Confiscate Record $2.78 Billion Worth of Cocaine

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In a significant operation, German investigators confiscated 39 tons of cocaine, valued at over $2.78 billion. This haul was cleverly concealed among shipments of fruits and vegetables on various container ships, as announced by officials on Monday. This operation led to the arrest of seven individuals, marking it as the largest cocaine bust in the country’s history.

The significant seizure was the result of a collaborative effort following a tip-off from Colombian authorities last year. Specifically, around 27.5 tons of the mix was discovered in the Hamburg port, another 8.8 tons in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and nearly 3.3 tons within Colombia itself.

The suspects, whose ages range from 30 to 54, comprise nationals from Germany, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Morocco, Turkey, and Ukraine. Their arrests occurred over the recent weeks, though their identities remain undisclosed due to German privacy laws.

The operation unveiled that a businessman from North Rhine-Westphalia had established around 100 dummy companies to legalize the transports. From April to September 2023, these fa├žades were used to facilitate the smuggling of substantial cocaine quantities from Latin America to Europe, potentially involving other unknown partners in Turkey.

Benjamin Limbach, the state justice minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, held a press conference in Duesseldorf, lauding the seizure as the “largest cocaine find on European soil,” as reported by Sky News. He described the operation as a significant strike against international organized crime.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser commended the seizure as well, highlighting the destructive impact of cocaine flooding into Europe and its profit generation for cartels. The operation, termed “OP Plexus,” was part of a broader criminal investigation, with local media linking it to significant efforts against drug smuggling networks.

Additionally, this bust follows the arrest of around 40 individuals by Europol in a major operation against a drug smuggling ring, resulting in the seizure of eight tons of cocaine. The cartel, led from Turkey and Dubai, faced a significant setback after these arrests, with Europol releasing footage of the law enforcement efforts, including drug-sniffing dogs, the apprehension of suspects, and interceptions at sea.

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