Eight Dutchmen stuck for running ‘most active cocaine gang in Europe’ | This weekend’s best stories

VideoWith the arrest of eight Dutch people, the Spanish police said they had rolled up an international criminal organization that was the most active in Europe in the import of cocaine from South America. The gang tried to smuggle more than 6,000 kilos of the white powder through various European ports, the guardia civil reports.


Caspar Naber

17 Oct. 2020
Latest update:
20:51




The arrests took place during a coordinated action in the provinces of Málaga and Valencia and in the cities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Papendrecht. Five suspects were arrested in Spain, three in the Netherlands. According to Spanish media, the suspects are Moroccans with a Dutch passport. At the same time as the arrests, 480 kilos of cocaine was seized in a sea container in the port of Valencia.

The operation code-named Cetil began in the province of Pontevedra in northwestern Spain in late 2019. A police team specializing in the fight against organized crime in the Galicia region investigated an international arms trade network. During that investigation, according to the Pontevedra newspaper a narco submarine they followed the trail of. That led to the port of Aldán near Vigo, not far from the Portuguese border, where they arrested the crew and seized the first shipment of cocaine.

Further investigation led to the interception of a ton of cocaine in several shipments, all linked to the Dutch organization, into the port of Marín at Pontevedra. After the arrests, it shifted its field of activity to the port of Valencia. There, a total of 3,200 kilos of the white powder was seized between March and June 2020.

Own counter-surveillance team

The core of the criminal organization was based in the Netherlands, but they traveled to Spain regularly to meet the rest and organize the drug shipments from South America. Several gang members have a wide range of criminal records for serious crimes such as arms trafficking, extortion and murder, according to the Spanish police. The gang also had its own support team with personnel trained militarily and experienced in war missions. They mainly engaged in counter-surveillance to see if the gang members were not being watched by third parties.

Operation Cetil was coordinated by Europol. In addition to the Spanish and Dutch police, investigators were also involved from the US Customs and Border Protection and from the Investigation Department of the US Department of Homeland Security. According to the guardia civil, the collaboration made it possible to fully identify all components of the organization and to intervene quickly when a cargo of cocaine arrived in the port of Westland in the Netherlands and in that of Valencia.

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Some of the drugs seized in the port of Valencia. © Civil Guard


Spanish, Dutch and American investigators in action in the interception of cocaine.

Spanish, Dutch and American investigators in action in the interception of cocaine. © Civil Guard


In this drug shipment, the cocaine was hidden in boxes of bananas.

In this drug shipment, the cocaine was hidden in boxes of bananas. © Civil Guard

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