Antwerp police nab money-laundering cocaine gang

Antwerp police nab money-laundering cocaine gang
Credit: Belga

A criminal organisation suspected of involvement in cocaine smuggling and trafficking as well as money laundering was rounded up this week in Antwerp, police and the prosecutor's office announced at a press conference.

The gang, reportedly controlled from Dubai, is said to have amassed about €15 million in criminal earnings in a year and a half. Of this amount, €900,000 in cash has already been recovered.

The investigation was launched, not for the first time, thanks to information gathered by cracking encrypted messages from the Sky ECC service.

“Initially, a financial facilitator came into the picture who provided services to a criminal organisation that we consider responsible for both the import and further trafficking of cocaine,” said Stéphanie Chomé of the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office. “Further investigations have uncovered the structure of the criminal organisation.”

Four people were arrested in 21 house searches, mainly in the Antwerp district. Three of them, Antwerp residents in their thirties, have meanwhile also been remanded in custody by the investigating judge.

These are suspected leaders of the gang, including its financial branch, according to the prosecutor's office.

The searches also resulted in the discovery of so-called anti-investigative devices such as jammers and GPS trackers, which the gang is suspected to have used to elude the police and customs services.

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