A 1.5-tonne haul of the drug was recovered as arrests were made in the UAE, UK and Spain.

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DUBAI // Two men were arrested in Dubai in an international multi-agency operation that has led to the seizure of 1.5 tonnes of cocaine, according to the British National Crime Agency.

The coordinated strikes on December 1 led to 11 arrests in total, with six men from Liverpool being arrested in the UK and Dubai.

Dubai Police anti-narcotics unit arrested a 39-year-old and a 38-year-old at a luxury apartment.

Another five men – two Colombians, two Peruvians and a Spaniard – were detained on December 3 by the Spanish National Police at a company in an industrial unit in Chiva, on the outskirts of Valencia.

Acting on intelligence from the National Crime Agency, Spanish police searched a shipping container from Colombia, which arrived in the Port of Valencia on November 30.

The container appeared to be loaded with sacks of charcoal on wooden pallets but forensic examination found that the pallets were made of compressed cocaine powder made to look like wood, and some of the sacks contained cocaine disguised as charcoal.

Greg McKenna, NCA regional head of investigations, said: “We believe the charcoal company was a front for a industrial-sized lab where cocaine was extracted from pallets and charcoal, processed and repackaged for onward distribution across Europe.

“This seizure of cocaine, the shutting down of the lab and the 11 arrests will have disrupted criminal activity across the whole of Europe.”

It is unclear what the involvement of the men arrested in Dubai is but they remain in custody. The four men arrested in Liverpool are on bail pending further enquiries and the five men in Spain are also in custody.