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The law enforcement agencies of eight European countries have pounced on a criminal organization in the Balkans which is said to run the continent’s largest cocaine distribution network

MADRID – Law enforcement in eight European countries has pounced on a Balkan criminal organization that is believed to run the continent’s largest cocaine distribution network, making 61 arrests and seizing more than four tonnes (4.4 tonnes ) drugs, authorities said on Monday.

The coordinated international operation involved crime-fighting agencies from Spain, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Colombia, according to Spanish police. The investigation also led police to Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The smuggler gang was mostly made up of Eastern Europeans, including what Europol called two “high value targets”.

The gang included members of paramilitary units and was “one of the largest criminal organizations operating in Europe,” Spanish police said. He was also allegedly involved in thefts, money laundering, extortion and kidnappings.

In Colombia, the gang has been implicated in transfers of football players between clubs to launder their illicit drug earnings.

The operation began in 2018 and resulted in arrests in March and May. Europol did not immediately respond to questions about why news of the operation was announced months later.

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ABC News

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