17 Tonnes Of Cocaine Worth $7 Billion Euros Seized In Brazil
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17 Tonnes Of Cocaine Worth $7 Billion Euros Seized In Brazil

On 30 March 2023, Brazilian law enforcement, with the support of Europol and other European law enforcement authorities, coordinated to bring down one of Brazil’s most active drug trafficking organizations responsible for shipping multi-tonne shipments of cocaine from Paraguay to Europe. This was a significant victory in the war on drugs as the criminal group was inundating Europe with tonnes of cocaine worth billions of euros.

This two-year-long intelligence-led operation known as Operation HINTERLAND culminated in simultaneous actions being carried out in Brazil to dismantle the criminal group that reached from Paraguay to Europe. The entire criminal infrastructure linked to this group was brought down, including its suppliers and money-laundering structure.

In total, 15 individuals were arrested, and over EUR 80 million worth of assets were seized. Over the course of the investigation, over 17 tonnes of cocaine linked to this criminal organization were seized, with an estimated street value of several billions of euros.

The investigation was initiated after the Brazilian Federal Police received intelligence from German Customs on a seizure in Hamburg (Germany) in December 2020 of 316 kilograms of cocaine. The initial information suggested that a Brazilian company was being used for shipping cocaine from Brazil to Europe. Based on the analysis carried out by Europol and the French authorities, the Brazilian Federal Police was able to fully map out the criminal network, which had, until then, mostly operated under the radar.

The investigators were able to uncover how this Brazilian drug trafficking organization was importing cocaine from Paraguay concealed in lorries before exporting it to Europe. The criminal organization was running the logistics between Paraguay and Brazil and negotiating directly with the suppliers in Paraguay and Bolivia.

The final rounds of arrests on 30 March were the culmination of many months of surveillance, intelligence gathering and coordination between the various law enforcement authorities involved in preparation for the action. Europol’s European Serious Organized Crime Centre has been supporting this case from the onset, bringing together the countries involved to establish a joint strategy and organize the exchange of evidence needed to prepare for the final phase of the investigation.

In addition, Europol has been providing continuous intelligence development and analysis to support investigators in the field. The following authorities took part in this investigation: Brazil’s Federal Police (Polícia Federal), France’s National Police (Police Nationale – OFAST), Germany’s Customs (Zoll), and Spain’s Civil Guard (Guardia Civil).

The operation in Brazil resulted in 37 property searches, 15 arrests, the seizure of 173 vehicles and one aircraft, and the freezing of the bank accounts of 147 individuals and 66 companies. Steps are also being taken in Spain to locate and seize assets belonging to criminal organization members.

This operation sends a strong message to drug traffickers that law enforcement is working tirelessly to dismantle their networks and put an end to their illegal activities. It also shows the importance of international cooperation and coordination in the fight against organized crime.

Kingston Bailey
Kingston Bailey
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