One of Belgium’s most wanted drug criminals, Flor Bressers, was finally arrested in Switzerland on Wednesday night.
Bressers (35) was living under a false name with his wife and child and did not resist arrest, De Standaard reports.
He’s been on the Most Wanted list of federal police since last May and has a number of nicknames, including ‘De Universitair’ because he’s said to have a university degree in criminology.
The arrest is a victory for Belgian authorities, who have been trying to track down a number of leaders in organised crime that have fled the country. A Mechelen gang leader was arrested in Dubai earlier this week, in what will likely be a test case for extradition of criminals from the UAE.
Many of the break-throughs in cases, including this latest one, are a result of information obtained during last year’s major Sky ECC cracking, in which authorities gained access to encrypted communications channels used by big players in the international drug trade.
Bressers, from Lommel, was a big name in the drug world. His organisation is alleged to have smuggled tons of cocaine from South America to Europe in recent years.
According to the investigators, he has connections with top drug barons in South America, as well as with Dutch criminal organisations. In Limburg, he was once prosecuted for allegedly cutting off the fingers of a Dutch gangster with pruning shears, but was eventually acquitted due to lack of evidence.
Bressers' case is said to be involved in a larger one regarding Kriva Rochem, an Antwerp company specialising in desalination of seawater that was used as a front for smuggling at least 3.2 tonnes of cocaine.
“After the publication on the websites Belgium's Most Wanted and Europe's Most Wanted by Europol, units of the Federal Judicial Police together with the Belgian Fast (Fugitive Active Search Team) and some other European Fast units started the active search,” said a spokesperson for the Antwerp public prosecutor when confirming the arrest.
Carried out by special units and with the assistance of other Swiss police services, the arrest is the result of an intensive manhunt lasting several months.
It was facilitated by close cooperation between the federal public prosecutor, the Antwerp public prosecutor's office and the various services of the federal judicial police. Belgium will next request the extradition of Bressers to the Swiss authorities.