Police in Belgium have detained 30 " />

Belgian police detain 30 in major drug trafficking case

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Police in Belgium have detained 30 people detained 30 people during an investigation of a major drug trafficking operation in seven countries

The federal prosecutor’s office said at least 10 other arrests were made abroad.

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Police officers carried out 49 searches across Belgium, most of them in and around Brussels and the port city of Antwerp. Prosecutors did not say what was seized during the operation.

“Liaison officers from Europol, Italy and Spain were able to follow the operation live and share information about simultaneous operations in other countries,” the prosecutor’s office said, adding that about 60 searches took place in Spain, Italy, Germany, Croatia and the Netherlands.

Belgium has become a major hub trafficking drugs into Europe. With thousands of containers reaching Antwerp every day, the city is one of Europe’s main ports of entry for cocaine.

Prosecutors said an investigation launched two years ago uncovered an international drug trafficking network involving suspects who originated mainly from Eastern Europe.

Most suspects lived in the Brussels district, and the organization has drop-off points near the Antwerp port, where cocaine arrives from South America, prosecutors said..

Prosecutors alleged the suspected traffickers worked in cahoots with “nationals from southern Europe” who belong to crime families in Limburg, Netherlands.

To transport drugs into Europe, the organization used cargo planes or private jets along with ship containers sent to Antwerp, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Le Havre in France and Hamburg, Germany, authorities alleged.

Last year, Belgian police made several dozen arrests during an organized crime operation of unprecedented scale after investigators cracked an encrypted communications network popular with criminals.

According to Belgian prosecutors, the cracking of the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC was useful in the drug case, helping to identify people in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay.

The suspects need to be presented to the investigating judge in charge of the case within 48 hours.

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