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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Spain, Portugal dismantle drug trafficking criminal clan: Europol

Authorities arrest 9 people, seize more than 2 tons of cocaine

Portuguese and Spanish authorities have dismantled a criminal ring allegedly responsible for large-scale cocaine trafficking from South America to the European Union, Europol said Friday.

The operation led to the arrest of nine Spanish nationals and searches in 12 houses in Spain and one in Portugal.

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During the operation, law enforcement authorities seized more than two tons of cocaine and various documents, which served as evidence in the investigation, Europol said.

The arrested are suspected to be members of an unnamed notorious criminal clan known to be involved in drug trafficking to the northern Spanish region of Galicia since the 1980s.

The arrests and seizures are the result of an investigation launched in February, when authorities gathered evidence of drug trafficking by known local narcotics clans along the Portuguese coast.

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“The drug trafficking operations were carried out by retrieving cocaine shipments in the waters of the Atlantic,” Europol said.

In a separate operation involving 17 countries, authorities found that credit card or payment card data of customers of 443 online merchants were compromised, Europol said. Authorities, led by Greek law enforcers, notified the merchants involved.

Criminals often sell the stolen information on illicit marketplaces on the darknet, Europol said.

“Customers are usually not aware that their payment details have been compromised until the criminals have already used them to carry out an unauthorized transaction. Generally, it is difficult for customers to find the point of compromise,” Europol added.

The European law enforcement agency also unveiled another action by German and Lithuanian authorities that dismantled an international criminal network of alleged car thieves.

By using sophisticated technology to circumvent keyless entry systems, the criminal network led by two Lithuanians had stolen at least 28 luxury vehicles in Germany, causing over 1.8 million euros in damages.

The vehicles were then either smuggled to Lithuania, where they received new forged documents, or dismantled in garages to be sold as spare parts.